Hero or Herod

The news this week has been monopolized by coverage of the death of John McCain. Many have called him a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam after 23 bomber missions and spent 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous prisoner of war camp for captured American prisoners.

When McCain returned home to jubilation and a handshake from President Richard Nixon, he found out his first wife, Carol, who had been a famous beauty and swimsuit model, had had a terrible car accident leaving her disfigured, about 5 inches shorter, and much heavier. For a while she needed a wheelchair and a catheter. Almost immediately McCain began running around with other women eventually dating his current wife, Cindy. Cindy was a wealthy heiress and 18 years younger than McCain.

McCain and Cindy got a marriage license 4 weeks before his divorce with Carol was final. They married a couple weeks later.

H Ross Perot, who paid for all of Carol’s healthcare while MCain was in the Hanoi Hilton, has said of John McCain, “McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory.”

At no time should we ever put our trust and hopes in a politician. They have always disappointed. They always will. They have no right to hold themselves up as a model of family values, like McCain did during his run for the presidency. They also have no right to rule everyday citizens who struggle, while raising their families, to pay the taxes politicians like McCain impose.

McCain and his fellow Senator, Russ Feingold of my home state, Wisconsin, supposed big accomplishment was campaign finance reform. I am from Wisconsin. Look at where Feingold got his money. Much of it came from California. Is that campaign finance reform – financing your campaign with outside money? It was a sham. And so is McCain.

Hero or Herod? Worthy of respect and admiration or merely contempt much like Herod the Great who ordered the massacre of the boy babies at the time of Jesus birth? You be the judge!

 

 

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Slavery Salt

Salt is a substance that can preserve food. So what is the salt that preserves slavery? We are all slaves, everyone of us, some to religion, some to a military enlistment, some to their jobs, some to bills that never seem to get paid. But each of us, everyone of us is a slave to our government every bit as much as the slaves of the 19th century that 500,000 Americans gave their life to free. They own us. They can get us to do whatever they need us to do. They manipulate us through taxation.

You may think you are free. The Constitution says so as does the Declaration, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Do you think you are free? Just miss one house payment. Just miss filing your taxes. Refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding. Refuse to sit on a jury. Try to buy a fourth dog when your community only allows three. You will see how free you are. The heavy hand of the law will descend on you like a bowling ball dropped from a skyscraper.

All this is possible through taxation. It doesn’t matter which party is in control. They both tax to stay in power. In fact they increase taxes to get more power. More money equals more power.

Trump wants to start the AFSPC (Air Force Space Command). Obama enacted the ACA (Affordable Care Act which by the way turned out to be not so affordable). Bush enacted the TSA (which did not improve the security at the airport where the airliner was stolen recently) and Clinton enacted the FMLA (who cares – who can afford to take off 12 weeks without pay anyway?).

Each of these alphabet programs decrease our freedom and add another layer of taxation to an already overburdened and overregulated taxpayer. Why do we submit here in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Maybe we should change our motto to:

Our taxation is up. Our bravery is down. Now we are citizens of a brand new Crown!

Government Gadflies

Gadflies are insects that bite livestock. They are very annoying and destructive. Anyone that works in government is a gadfly biting the livestock (citizens) of society, taking excessive taxes to further their continuation in power.

Tolstoy said that one means of keeping governments in power is corruption, consisting “…in plundering the industrious working people of their wealth by means of taxes and distributing it in satisfying the greed of officials, who are bound in return to support and keep up the oppression of the people.”

He was on to something but today he might word it differently saying something more like, “…in plundering the industrious working people of their wealth by means of taxes and distributing it in satisfying the greed of special interest groups, who are bound in return to support the party distributing the taxes.”

The Democrats have accused the Republicans of distributing taxes to support rich businessmen. The Republicans have accused the Democrats of distributing taxes to support liberal social causes. And in so doing this two party political structure has divided the country and consolidated their power. These parties do not exist to hurt each other or to prove the other party wrong. Because no matter which party controls the Presidency or the House or the Senate, they are both in power. They exist to keep third parties out of power.

Does anyone believe that there are really only two political philosophies in America? Hell no! You cannot tell me that everyone you and I know is a Democrat or a Republican! I know lots of Independents. I know Libertarians. I know Constitutionalists and Anarchists too. Yet almost none of them are in office. They get laughed out of ballot access. They get ridiculed in social gatherings. Why? Because everyone is supposed to be either a Democrat or a Republican. That’s the way the Democrats and Republicans have it set up. And that is the way they want to keep it.

May I reiterate – They are both in power!

It does not have to be that way. It is not the law of the land. It is not in the Constitution. Nor has it been passed by any state legislature. Nor is it in any city ordinance.

It can be changed. It must be changed. Taxes are so far out of hand from what is necessary that we can not let this go on. More than 50% of what we earn goes to support this political system. One trillion dollars to Social Security. Another Trillion to Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and ACA. Another trillion to defense and safety net programs. Trillions more to state and local governments. And $14 trillion in debt!

To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, “A trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money.”

People think they have to vote because if they did not, they would not have a right to complain. But when they do vote, nothing changes anyway. No matter who wins we all lose.

I do not have the answers but I do know that the answers are not in maintaining the status quo. Demand change! Demand it now! Demand it in November!

 

 

 

 

 

Chic Chicago

Last weekend there were at least 70 shootings in Chicago, a democratic stronghold, a city with strict gun control laws, a city with practically no gun stores. The Chicago Police Superintendent, Garry McCarthy, blames gangs and illegal guns for the violence. The illegal guns are supposedly coming from bordering states including Wisconsin and Indiana. Chicago politicians including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congressman Danny Davis, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (who argues that the problem is that Chicago is surrounded by red states that have completely surrendered to the pro-gun lobby) are calling for new federal regulations to close traffic in interstate gun sales including instituting Federal Universal Background Checks.

Really? More laws? Isn’t it already illegal to use a weapon in the commission of a crime? For that matter isn’t crime by definition illegal? What law will stop someone intending to commit a crime, any crime, to not commit it?

Do we really want a politician from Chicago, or Illinois for that matter, telling us how to solve our crime problem anyway? Several politicians from the Illinois delegation to Congress have been convicted of serious crime – Senator Willian Lorimer, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, Rep. Dennis Hastert, Rep. Mel Reynolds, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, and Rep Aaron Schock. Also Governors Len Small, Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, George Ryan, and Rod Blagojevich have all served time in prison. If you can’t do the time – Don’t get elected in Illinois!

No more laws. Less law is what we need – at least when it comes to gun control – at least in Illinois. I think a pink Lady Smith in every purse would make for a very chic Chicago.

Death

I have not written anything in a few months. It has been a very difficult time, the most difficult time of my life up to now. A couple months ago my 3 1/2 year old grandson, Arlo, died of brain cancer. It made me question my faith and my entire belief system when he died. Why? Why such a young and beautiful life is taken before it is even begun.

I have always considered myself a strong Christian, versed in the Bible, faithful in attendance at services. I have been an Elder in my congregation for over 20 years. And yet my faith did nothing to give me peace. The verse that kept going through my mind was from Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” What did that say about my faith? I did not want to move a mountain. Was my faith so small that my prayers for the healing of a little child of God, would go unanswered and unfulfilled?

Arlo had been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer at 14 months. The cancer had already metastasized. They found two tumors on his lungs. After 2 lung surgeries, they did a successful liver transplant at 18 months. At 30 months he relapsed. During another lung surgery, the tumor burst while it was being extracted from his chest and filled his chest cavity with cancer cells. The doctors flushed his chest cavity with chemo and said everything should be fine. It was, at least until age 36 months when the team at Froedert Childrens Hospital found two brain tumors during a routine MRI. They did surgery a couple months later after trying to shrink the tumors. They could not remove the margins because they said it could affect motor functions or speech. They did another MRI a couple weeks after the surgery and said the tumors had already grown back to the size they were before the surgery. They also found a third tumor. They gave him a couple months. He died two weeks later.

Two weeks ago my 92 year old dad died. For the last 2 1/2 years he had lived with my wife and I. He and mom moved in when mom was getting too much to take care of for dad. She had Alzheimer’s and was getting worse each week. Even at 90 years old Dad did everything – cooking, cleaning, taking care of mom, doctors appointments, etc.  Mom died 6 months later and dad, though living with us, was all alone, heartbroken that his soulmate of 68 years was gone.

This last Sunday one of my good friends moms died, also at 92. A day later an old friend and customer at my restaurant died. He was only 82.

My faith still wobbles. I am working through it. It was my dad’s time. He had lived a full life. It was my friend’s moms time. It was my old customer’s time. It should not have been Arlo’s time.

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Bryce Ain’t Nice

The news from SE Wisconsin today is that long time Congressman and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, will not seek re-election in January when his term runs out. Ryan has said all along that he never intended to serve so long in the Congress. He wants to spend more time with his family.

Randy Bryce who announced his bid to unseat Ryan a few months ago had this to say, “After 20 years in Congress rewarding billionaires like Charles and David Koch, Paul Ryan took one look at Randy Bryce and this campaign and is throwing in the towel.” Bryce is taking credit for forcing Ryan out of office.

Frankly I don’t really care that Ryan is leaving. He has not been able to enact his agenda of smaller government, lower taxes, and saving Social Security. But for Bryce to take credit for Ryan leaving is absurd. It is also ungentlemanly.

Bryce’s boast is one of the things that makes politics so ugly. Why could he not have just said congratulations on serving 20 years in Congress and ending up being third in line for the US Presidency? Why could he not have said that it would have been an interesting race that he had been looking forward to? He could have said that now he is looking forward to a race of nobody first time candidates. The old saying goes, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

But Bryce ain’t nice. And so he stuck his foot in his mouth. I hope he chokes on it!

Gun Crime Case Study

A Racine, WI man was recently convicted of theft of movable property and sentenced to 2 years in prison. The original charge – felony attempted first-degree homicide, theft of movable property from a person/corpse, two charges of misdemeanor possession of cocaine and marijuana and four misdemeanor charges of bail jumping. The first degree attempted homicide charge was the result of a shooting.

People wonder why crime is so rampant, why respect for life, personal property and the rule of law is vacant from our courts. They wonder why those convicted of heinous crimes are back on the streets so soon. This is a prime example.

How can any man have four charges of bail jumping against him? If he was out on bail a first time, why was he given bail a second time – a third time – and a fourth time? Why are crimes committed with guns allowed to be plead down? How will making certain types of guns illegal do any good when our courts apparently do not think gun crime is of any consequence?

In two years when this man is released, will he be a changed man? Will he be an upright citizen? Will he have learned his lesson?

Any crime committed with a weapon should result in immediate and irrevocable life in prison.  If a person cannot peacefully live among society while respecting the rights of all citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ensconced in our Declaration of Independence, they should be locked up forever, denied the freedom that they have so recklessly abused and dishonored of the honest, upright citizens they have tormented.

And if our legal system including the police, the courts, and the prisons, the legal system we the people have enabled to protect us from societal reprobates, will not exercise their sworn duty to protect our lives and our property, then it is time for the people to eliminate that system and protect themselves with the only thing we have left, our second amendment rights!

After all that is the main reason for the inclusion of the second amendment in our Bill of Rights – the rights of all men to rise up against a government not fulfilling the purpose with which they have been entrusted. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” Maybe it’s that time.

 

 

Guns or Grenades

The recent tragic shooting in the Florida school has renewed the call for more gun control laws. But what law would have stopped this violence? Someone intent on doing harm will do it – if not with guns, then with something else.

In 2014, Rashad Owens of Kileen, Texas, drove his car into a crowd of people killing 2 and injuring 23 more, 5 critically.

Also in 2014 in the city of Kunming, Yunnan China, 8 knife wielding perpetrators killed 29 civilians and left 140 more seriously injured.

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 and injured 600 in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. And on 9/11/2001, 2,996 people were killed when terrorists used airplanes to attack the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

Would we ban cars, knives, fertilizer and planes because of their potential to be used for harm?

Drug overdoses led to 52,404 deaths in 2015 most of them from from illegal drugs. This is 4 times the number of deaths from gun homicides that year. And illegal drugs are already by definition – ILLEGAL!

Making guns illegal will not stop this violence. Making bump stocks illegal will not stop this violence. Making it illegal for mentally ill patients to obtain guns will not stop this violence. Raising the age at which a person can legally buy a weapon will not stop this violence.

Nothing will stop violence committed by a person intent on harming other people.

I don’t have the answers. But gun banners don’t have the solutions.

Tolstoy Testament

Recently in my readings I ran across a great quote from Leo Tolstoy in his essay, On Anarchy. He says, “And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”

Think about that for a moment. How many of us are willing to change ourselves? It seems like we all want to change everyone else, make them more like us. After all we are right. They are wrong. The Catholics want the Lutherans to change. The Lutherans want the Catholics to change. The Suni’s want the Shiite’s to change. The Hindu’s want the Budhist’s to change. There are divisions among states, countries, continents, races. These divisions lead to wars and calls for violence. Etc. Etc. Etc.

As I read Tolstoy’s quote, I was reminded of President JFK’s most famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” In a way, these quotes are similar. JFK was talking about doing something for your country though. Tolstoy was talking about changing yourself for yourself and in so doing, helping society – your country.

It is also a little like Pay it Forward. When something good happens to you or someone does something good for you, pass it on. In no time our society could be transformed. We would no longer need an overreaching government nanny. We could probably reduce our armed forces. Everyone would want to be our friend. Our motives towards them would be pure.

This concept of changing yourself is also a lot like the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Tolstoy was an anarchist. But he was on to something here. We would not need government at any level if it were not for some people taking advantage of others and other people trying to change their neighbors. Most of what government does could be done cheaper and more efficiently if we could trust our neighbors motive.

Can you live by the golden rule? Can you pay it forward? Can you change yourself? If you want to help your country, if you want to improve society, if you want to eliminate the nanny state that is becoming more and more powerful each and every day, begin at home and change thyself.

Punishment Parody

It was reported today that Dennis Brantner, 64, entered an Alford Plea in a Fond Du Lac courtroom in the strangulation death of Racine County resident, Berit Beck, almost 30 years ago. An Alford Plea allows a defendant to maintain his or her innocence while admitting there is enough evidence for a conviction. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Beck at the time of her death was an 18 year old, curly haired blonde, on her way to a job training seminar in Appleton, WI, her whole life ahead of her. She never made it. Her decomposed body, skull wrapped with a red gag, was found 6 weeks after she disappeared by a local farmer lying in a ditch 20 miles from where her car was discovered.

Brantner has always maintained his innocence. But while in prison for another crime he told an inmate he did it. He said he killed her but all the state had was his fingerprints in her van, and that was not enough to convict him.

So he entered a plea deal after his first trial ended in a hung jury, 11 having voted for conviction and 1 against. He can get 10 years in prison at his March sentencing. Meanwhile Berit Beck’s family and friends have had almost 30 years of punishment, almost 30 years of heart break, almost 30 years of loneliness, no family for her, no grandchildren for her parents. It does not seem fair. And that is the state of jurisprudence in America – scheming deals where the innocent are punished more than the guilty.

If it was my daughter…….