Friday, October 30, 2009

We don't trust you

There is an old hymn entitled "There's Just Something About That Name". One of the all-time greats, it, of course, references Jesus Christ but I thought about that song as I pondered some recent events. Hopefully steering well clear of anything blasphemous I propose that there is also something, though not near divine, about the name of my state. Say the name "Texas" to almost anyone in the world and certain things come to mind. Certain stereotypes - good, bad, or even wrong - conjure quickly when one mentions the Lone Star state. Cowboy hats, boots, cattle, oil, America's team. They say "everything is bigger in Texas" and maybe some of that is true. Every stereotype has roots in truth.

One perception that consistently runs true is that Texas is a leader. What happens in Texas usually spills over later into the other states and sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes not. Texas consistently leads the nation in home-building, job availability, health care and finding alternative energy sources. Unfortunately we also lead the nation in alcohol-related car wrecks, repeat teen pregnancies, and the number of incarcerated residents. Perhaps some of this could be attributed to the sheer size of the state and we all agree we have areas that need attention but there is little dispute that whatever Texas does it does big. I used to have a football coach that encouraged us to do it 100% even if it's wrong. Texas seems to have that attitude.

A few days ago I heard a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host say that he was surprised that Texas had not taken more of a lead in the right-wing revolt against out liberal national politicians. Now, whether that is true or not one could debate but it made me think about why he would have such an impression. Why would Texas not lead out in expressing the conservative values that are so predominate here in the South? Why would we let other states be the "tip of the spear" in demanding real conservative change in our country? I believe it is at least in part due to our distrustful nature.

For many years I rejected becoming a member of the National Rifle Association. I am always careful about what organizations I support and have never before felt that joining such a group was necessary or even in my best interests. I guess I have always wanted to live in a perfect world where it was not necessary to fight for the right to own grenade-launching military weapons as a civilian. Do we really need to petition Congress for belt-fed automatics and high capacity, high caliber hunting rifles? Do we really need to battle so far to the right just to keep the other side from taking us too far to the left? I finally realized that the answer is a resounding "yes"! We may not need to take our gun rights to that extreme but if we do not push hard then our very basic gun rights are in danger.

I remember my first day of second grade. I walked onto the school ground and a fourth grade boy came up to me right away and said he was going to take my lunch. I started to explain to him that my mother had packed this lunch and that he should get his own lunch but before I could explain this to him he grabbed my lunch and pushed me down. The next day the same boy came to me and again told me he was going to take my lunch. I knew that we could work this out if we could just talk about it but before I could finish my sentence about rightful ownership the boy grabbed my lunch, pushed me down and kicked me in the ribs. The third day of school was different. Again the bully approached me as I walked onto campus but before he could even make his demand I punched him as hard as I could right in the mouth and broke one of his teeth. He never bothered me again.

I learned a huge lesson in second grade and it has stuck with me and benefitted me many times. Sometimes you have to strike harder than the other guy just to keep things even. You cannot trust people to be reasonable just because you are reasonable and sometimes people will not listen to what you say unless you back it up with action. We cannot expect everybody to think the same way we do and it would be nice if we could just explain our different views calmly and expect that the other person would come to respect our side even if they do not agree but you cannot trust them to do that. You cannot always trust that other people have your best interest at heart.

This is a lesson that Texans have learned over the years but it is a two-way street. We have to realize that while in the past we may not have trusted the far right-wing groups to understand our political and religious views and for it to be necessary to align ourselves with such groups but now the far left is going to take our country and even our state to places that we cannot allow. It is time to stand up for our basic rights. Without violence and not in anger but through vigorous and passionate, purposeful and even prayerful protests we need to join the others in showing President Obama and our representatives in Washington that Texans again lead the way in demanding reform and responsibility. It is time to get involved. It is time to put on our hats and boots and tell the kids to feed the cows because we have work to do. There is something about the name "Texas" and we can change our country. It can be done. Trust me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Written in 1719

...they are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed of the returning, which only can make them esteemed wise men.

--Daniel Defoe

"Robinson Crusoe"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Storytime in parts

--Part XIII--

Officer Walter Blunt was looking forward to getting away for a few hours. The last several days had seen his caseload increase dramatically and everybody seemed to have an emergency, real or imagined. The small Pennsylvania town where he was a police officer rarely saw much action and he usually spent his shifts babysitting the townspeople in a small matrix of semi-serious confrontations typically stemming from one generation to the other or from one sex to the other. Officer Blunt had received formal training in everything from riot control to public relations but the past couple of years his sole focus had been much closer to the latter.

He had not voted for Eisenhower for president since Eisenhower was a Republican and Blunt came from a long line of Democrats and yet Blunt felt that the man was honest and well-intentioned and probably idealistically correct. It was all a moot point at the moment because Officer Blunt had a job to do and he would do that job no matter his personal feelings about the man. Blunt was to be a part of a joint task force comprised mostly of local police officers who were to provide crowd control while the president made a stop in a neighboring town as part of his effort to drum up support for an interstate highway system.

Blunt checked in and got instructions. He was to keep well-wishers and gaukers off of the roadway so the president's limo could pass by without anybody getting hurt. When he got to his station he saw several people had already lined up along the curb and some were already copping a squat right next to where President Eisenhower would be entering the hotel. The scene was chaotic with local police running into federal police and being screamed at all the while by Secret Service. Local police had the black cotton uniform, the federal agents would be in suits and ties and the Secret Service would be in nice suits and ties and wearing sunglasses.

News crews in awkward looking panel vans were setting up right in front of Blunt and he first asked them nicely to leave and then when he was ignored he and two others gave the crew a stiff warning about where that van would wind up if it was not moved promptly. Promptly it was moved and another immediately took it's place. Blunt and the others skipped the nice part and proceeded to threaten which worked pretty well after some moaning and question-asking. Another officer from another city smiled at Blunt and said,"Say what you want as long as you do what I say! Right, officer?" Walter smiled. It beats breaking up a family squabble about who drank who's beer. Blunt felt like he was doing important duty here and he was glad to help.

President Eisenhower's car pulled up in front of the hotel accompanied by various other vehicles doing various other duties. Red velour ropes cordoned off the pathway from the car to the hotel entrance. The car had Presidential Seal flags flying on both front fenders. The 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo was black with a soft vinyl top and tons of chrome that enjoyed it's long journey from the collection at the front bumper and streaked down the side to the back door and accentuated the sexy curve of the cars hips and down to the sultry fins on the back.

At the same time as a Secret Service officer stepped forward to open the limo door for Eisenhower, Officer Blunt stepped forward to encourage a few stragglers to move away from the velour rope.

"Move away, please. Thank you... Move away from the rope, please...Step to the curb, please...Thank you..."

Seeing a young girl holding the rope, Officer Blunt put his hand gently but firmly on her shoulder to demand that she move back.

"Move away from the ro..."

The president stepped out of the car and took a few steps smiling broadly and waving to the crowd. He was almost actually glad to be there and his smile was less artificial than at other times. He was willing to shake a few hands and make a show of enjoying his small-town stops and this seemed like a good time and place with plenty of reporters, cameras and security. Seeing the local police officer with his hand on the young girl's shoulder would be a good place to start so President Dwight David Eisenhower moved rapidly to the pair. In spite of what seemed like an odd exchange of glances between the two, Ike held out his hand to the pretty little girl and gave his standard greeting.

"Dwight Eisenhower", he said with a nod.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm rockin'!

So, I've started going back to the gym now. (I know. It's so obvious.) Tonight I was really getting in to it. Pumping some iron. Shocking my abs. Rocking out to some Aerosmith on my mp3 player. Blasting through the pain as AC/DC blasted through the ear buds. Now I'm going. Head bobbing. Biceps aching. Back in the groove and Back in Black. Nothing but me and the iron and ...Moon River? Who put Andy Williams on my playlist?! Something about "my huckleberry friend" zapped all the fire outta me. Not exactly "eye of the tiger" after that. So, is there anything else you think I should avoid listening to in the gym?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Makes him more of a hero...

I get choked up looking at this pic. Here's the story. It's hard to say "Thank you" enough to them. I hate war but I sure am grateful for warriors.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Multi-faceted question

But does there have to be so much rain?

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Saturday, October 03, 2009