Friday, April 29, 2005

He Still Doesn't Get It

It's foggy this morning and so far the oil well drillers haven't disturbed the tranquility around my woods. What's disturbing me it the President's press conference last night. I'll leave the lambasting to Maher and Stewart as I tend to dismiss most politcal speaking as pandering rhetoric anyway-- and the President pandered last night so much he was like a carpenter driving nails with a rubber hammer. He approached the podium with all the assurance he held the winning hand but his cards were marked. His use of the words 'private accounts' was sprinkled liberally throughout his discourse on Social Security as though all Americans were accustomed to investing part of their income in 'private accounts' and the ups and downs of the stock market were nothing to worry about, after all they could easily convert to 'bonds'. Did he mean government bonds? How 'safe' would they be if the government goes bankrupt? Maybe he was thinking of war bonds. His take on Korea and glossing up China was frightening to say the least. The political climate in china is as volatile as a Chinese New Years parade. Their interest in North Korea has always been to put them in their back pocket...still is. Much the same as when they sent troops in to support North Korea during the Korean war. And the ensuing years have not shown any signs that China is interested in our form of 'Democracy'.

When Bush catagorized himself as one of thos baby boomers soon to retire it only proved--at least to me (and more than likely any other American with an iota of common sense) that he is still living in the La-La land of the rich and infamous. Born into wealth, he still doesn't get it and probably never will. This kind of condescending to the poor and middle class speaks volumes about how he really views the working class.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Sounds of Earth

Earth, the mother of us all, speaks to us in various ways. Sometimes her sounds are pleasing to the ear. Birds of the morning sing, warm spring winds rustles the new leaves on the trees, young squirrels, bushey tails aloft, chatter to each other as they peel acorns and morning doves coo the sun up. Sometimes her sounds assail the ear: wind howling across mountain tops, the startling crack of trees breaking in Hurricane winds, the fearful on-rushing railroad sound of a tornado when it touches ground. This morning, as the oil well drilling continues south of my woods (like a giant dentists drill) the earth is emiting loud groans like the giant bit was hitting nerves deep within the earth.
It's still turkey hunting season here. A hunter walks out of the woods across the road from my porch. He's a neighbor and I yell at him, "See or hear any turkey?" He shakes his head 'no', throws his arms up and yells back, "I don't know where they've went this year!" and walks off, head down, looking for the elusive track. But he's a man of the woods and he knows, as I know, the gobblers have moved miles away from the maddening sound of the earth groaning, sometimes horrendously enough to carry for many miles.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Much like the mindset of the nineteen-fifties when the threat of 'nuclear war' caused a wave of panic, school safety drills and a flurry of bomb shelter sales, the current wave of 'terrorism' coupled with a resurgence of religious fervor fueled by Christian zealots (and the word 'zealot is apprapro). In the fifties it was called the 'red menace', now it's the 'evil-doers' (the dumbing down of America really shows up on this one) who are out to bring down our nation. Our government is on an agenda of aggression unlike anything they've ever attempted before under the umbrella of 'democratizing freedom lovers everywhere' (another good example of dumbing down).

I believe we'll survive the next four years if the constitution can stand the rigorus beating the religious right intends on giving it, and all of our elected representatives don't completely forget why our forefathers founded this country. The most important words in Lincoln's Gettysburg address were: 'a government of the people, by the people and for the people'. The words should be chiseled on every building WE own in Washington.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Disastrous Folly

Erich Maria Remarque published All Quiet on the Western Front in nineteen-twenty-eight; it is probably one of the greatest books about the horror and inhumanity of war ever written. He was himself wounded five times during WWI and his novel, although seen through the eyes of a fictional protagonist flings the reader headlong into the front lines of battle. With unparalled descriptive narrative he gives us a horrific look at how battle tears men to pieces; how nations who can't reach agreement on any matter are wont to engage each other in battle. A disastrous folly at best and subsequent years have proven the nature of the beast has changed little. Civilization still has giant strides to take until nations learn to treat each other with civility.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Mother Earth

It's one of those mornings when my thoughts are meandering all over the place. It stormed until after midnight and the woods are quiet right now except for the muted sound of the oil drillers, still trying to find the black gold south of my place. Curiously the sound is like the quiet roar of an approaching hurricane--a muted roar rising and falling as the drill sinks further into Mother Earth. Indians (or to be more politically correct, Native Americans) believed that every thing on this earth contained a spirit. They named this orb we inhabit Mother Earth.

I'm not a 'tree-hugger' of the purest sort but I do ponder what and where our constant poking, prodding, paving and pulling of our 'Mother' is leading. Religionists tell us the signs of the end are all around us (which I don't believe along with other alarmist jargon). Scientists have a time line of a billion years or so until the sun is close enough to earth to turn it into a fiery furnace and another billion years or so until it explodes (or implodes--I'm not a scientist but I do read Discovery) wiping out our solar system. So the time is 'near' depends upon how one relates it to his beliefs. Much like the age old question of how long have we been here anyway.

The first rays of dawn are breaking through the woods and the birds are gaining ground in the noise battle. The sun is about to rise in all its golden glory--time to get off my porch, go in the house and see what folly Shamrock, my novel's P.I. is up to today in his latest foray into the jungles of crime.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Flat Tax or Added Value Tax

Everytime the flat tax or added value tax is brought up before congress, the bills are defeated. Why? Because the flat tax and/or the added value tax is based on common sense which just doesn't exist anymore in the halls of congress.
Unlike the convoluted, cumbersome and nearly incomprehensible federal tax system now in place which favors the rich, collects little from corporations, creates illusions for the working poor and rapes the middle incomers, a flat or added value tax would eventually erase the national debt, make the filing process a simple one, two, three and accomplish the task of having everyone paying his fair share. And fair is one word that scares hell out of corporations.

The law of bankruptcy is simple: When you spend more than you take in you will eventually go bankrupt. Our government obviously ignores this premise on a grand scale. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the way out because you can no long rob Peter when he has nothing to rob him of.

The government spends a lot of time assuring us that the ups and downs of our national budget are always temporary and, since the Great Depression the stock market has built in safety measures to prevent such a crash. I would bet you one of my tax dollars they could be wrong.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Party Line

My grandpa had no use for the telephone. If it wasn't for my grandma's insistence the only bell that would ever have rung around his farm was the dinner bell. It was in the late nineteen thirties when they finally got their first phone it was on a party line. The phone had no numbers and no dial, instead you had a small hand crank on the side of the phone which you cranked in a long or short spins or a combo of both to whatever number you were going to dial. All the phones on the party line rang with someone called anyone thus you only picked up the receiver when your ring (grandpa's was one long and two shorts) sounded. Of course a lot of people connected to the party line would also pickup and listen (and sometimes join it, wanted or unwanted) so you probably could say it was the first Internet chat line.

My grandpa only had to listen to it after supper as his farm was large and he spent all of his daylight hours outside either tending to crops or in the barn repairing the equipment necessary to farming--and something was always in need of repair. He was a religious man and suppertime was a ritual so no one was allowed to pick up the phone during that hour. He never once talked on the 'consarn contraption' ('consarn' being the only thing close to a curse word he ever used) as he knew what went on on the party line and 'nobody needs to stick their consarn noses into my consarn business!'

They lived so far out in the country electric power never made it out their way until nineteen forty six, four years after my grandpa died of heatstroke, not an uncommon way for farmers to die suddenly in those days. Grandma was of a different mindset. Her day was long and hard and her only entertainment was listening to the small, battery powered radio, her windup Victrola or listening in on the party line.

To me the Internet is much like the party line and, like the party line, can sometimes create havoc among folks. The major difference of course is folks knew each other on the party line and with the Internet you can be as anonymous as you desire. I don't think the Internet is actually bringing the world together; it is just allowing us to be as bastardly, rowdy or friendly as the mood strikes. Then again it does give us some idea that, in the main, folks on the other side of the world aren't that very much different than on this side.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Psychic Nonsense

Last October my name landed on a number of Psychic mailing lists. Don't know how this happened as I truck no nonsense from fortune tellers, horseoscopes (spelling intended) tea leaves or Chinese fortune cookies...other than for entertainment value and laughs. I also read junk mail because I'm a writer and always intrigued by how anyone writes and how the language is used in junk mail to intimidate people into parting with their money.
So far I've received three letters from one psychic in Cal., two from one in Fla. and a few others from states where I would never have suspected psychics to be doing business from. All of them have seen (or been told by spirits, angels or the infamous Tarot cards) such wonders (and only a few minor disasters) befalling me that they had to send me a FREE reading and, of course, an offer to 'guide' my course for the paltry fee of anywhere from nineteen-ninety-five to twenty or thirty dollars plus the infamous five dollars for 'postage and handling'. I've never understood the 'handling' part. Coffee money? Folding and stuffing the envelopes? It seems to me a flat price would gain more response from those inclined, intimidated or just plain silly enough to buy into such 'malarky' (my grandma's response to sales pitches).
What amuses me about the one in California is how my good fortune dates keep moving up with each subsequent letter. The first one, in October last, she told me I would win a major contest in Feb. this year (although the one in Florida saw me aboard my yacht well before that) then, on April 1st I would find a diamond bracelet (on the ground, mind you) worth an enormous amount of money which belonged to nobody! Zounds! Then, in rapid sucession through May until August all kinds of wealth would land in my lap. Of course, to make sure all of these things happened, I had to rush bucks to her (plus the postage and handling, of course) then she could work in close collusion with my Guardian Angel. She even enclosed a tarot card with a picture of my angel on it--and it was absolutely FREE! My 'angel' looked like a Pegasus with a hangover.
In January, I received another letter from her and it was very suspiously similiar except all my good fortune was set ahead a couple of months. Last week another arrived: same letter, different dates. I suppose part of the 'handling' fee goes toward labor for peeling off those stick-on addresses and affixing them to the envelope.
Oh yes, another hoo-ha she saw was a hole in my 'Aura' (all psychics see 'Auras') right above my left shoulder but she would heal that immediately upon receiving my moola. Maybe I should send her some money and have her cast a spell on my Doctor so he would work that cheap.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Black Gold

When I went out to my porch this morning to write, listen to the birds awakening to the sunrise and generally just enjoy the solitude, a new sound assailed my ears--an unwelcome sound I knew was coming.
Last summer a representative from an oil leasing company knocked at my door. He was buying up mineral rights in my county. I didn't sell him mine but most of my neighbors listened to his spiel about sudden wealth and signed their mineral rights away for a few paltry dollars. I studied contract law once and read over the contract. It was more of a major sales pitch with all the fine print necessary to make sure only the oil companies would end up with the black gold.

This morning the air is filled with the steady hum of oil drilling equipment about five miles south of me. I knew they were there when they widened and graveled the small dead end road leading into a small country church a half mile off the narrow paved road that cuts over from one country highway to another, a routeI usually travel whenI have occasion to go into town. Truckloads of equipment and oil drilling pipe were moving up the road last week.

My hope is this 'test' well will come up dry which, if rumour has it right, they will then have discovered the north edge of the underlying oil. Then they will get the hell out, returning peace and serenity to my woods and the poor souls buried beside the church which is a stones throw away from the oil equipment ruckus.

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Word on Jane Fonda

Is a moral person an ethical person? Not necessarily so, especially when, by definition, morality is a set of standards dtermined by what a society determines is right or wrong and ethics are a set of standards ingrained in a person by his/her upbringing, time and circumstances. The morals of society change with the tides and only your personal ethics will determine if what society and the government of that society is up to is right or wrong-- and your ethics will determine whether you will go along or you will let your personal ethical code steer your course of action.

Case in point: Jane Fonda. Her personal ethics were anti-war and she therefore took a stance against the Vietnam war (or what moralists called a 'police action'). Whatever it was called, it cost us a monumental loss of fathers, brothers, sisters and sons and daughters. Most women's ethical code is anti-war; most men, especially men in government, deem war as a necessity whether predicated on territorial acquistion, religious zeal or (the old standby) 'protecting our interests' which nowdays means 'oil' no matter how vehemently the far right decries that assertion. Sadly, most women, bowing to the power of politics and the 'Moral Majority', forsake their personal ethics and acquiesce to the majority. Jane Fonda took a stand on Vietnam based on her personal ethics and paid dearly for doing so...and now she's written a book which backs away from her stand, caving in to the societal moralists who (no matter how apologetic she is) still look down their pious nose's at her-- a habit moralists use with abject impunity. We are all aware we have a 'Moral Majority' in this country. How would we change with an 'Ethical Majority'? Personally, I wish Jane Fonda would have stood her ground. All she ever wanted was for us to get the hell out of there-- and she wasn't as alone as she thought. Just ask any Vet who managed to make it back what was all he wanted when he was there.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Turkey Season

Dawn is being heralded this morning by hoot ows and gobblers. It's turkey hunting season and a big gobbler is sounding off somewhere out in the woods surrounding my place. I once hunted and the primal urge is still alive within me but age and arthritis have taken me out of the woods and onto my porch.

The turkeys are late this year. The season started two weeksago and my son-in-law has treked out every morning and so far failed to bring home the bird. Last year the turkeys were sounding off before hunting season began and we had plenty of them stored in the freezer by the end of the season-- along with abundant deer meat. Deer were hiding well this year but we still managed to bring in our fair share.

The few of us who live out here don't have to depend on wild game to exist but we still don't hunt just for the hell of it. Everything brought out of these massive forests of oak and pine eventually goes into the skillet, oven or outside grill and it still titilates the taste buds with the flavor of nature. Other than unadulterated mushrooms there is little on the menu that comes close to offering this reminence of food au natural.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Sky is Falling

The real problem with social security is the lack of knowledge by those who run our government about what it means to be poor or middle income. There are varying degrees of poor but, when it comes to 'fixing' social security, the old axiom 'If it's not broken, don't fix it' holds true in more ways than one.

When we say 'our government' just who are we referring to? The answer is: the wealthy or very comfortably well off. The difference between rich and poor means the rich are those who have money to invest in retirement and the poor means those, including the middle incomers, who live from paycheck to paycheck.

In the structure of capitalism labor means those who have to work to produce a product and management means those who control labor. The division of labor and management is a chasm that keeps widening as a business grows and produces bigger profits and bigger profits mean
bigger battles between management and labor to increase the 'bottom line'. Management has no compulsion to increase income for labor which includes benefit programs and social security, and especially social security as the business has to match social security deductions.

The larger a corporation grows, the less they view labor with any concern for labor welfare other than how to keep from raising wages. Of course they look at their own income in a much different light which means pocketing as much of the profit as possible so their retirement is uneffected by any changes (including the demise) of social security.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt institued the social security program, what were his motives? Altruism? Compassion for the working class? Of course not, he had no financial problems and knew nothing about what it means to be a laborer on wages. Roosevelt was motivated by his vision of bringing corporate America out of a depression by motivating and inspiring labor, freeing labor from the fear of retiring on nothing. His vision, however expansive, was to save corporate America and it worked. What corportate America and the wealthy bureaucrats of government don't recognize is playing games with social security by altering the basic program could bring on a labor problem causing the whole restructing of our form of capitalism (which they so dearly love).

The efforts of government should be to strengthen social security, not on fixing what still isn't broke. Chicken-Littling the program could bring the now profitable pie-in-the-sky falling on their own very heads.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Age Gauge

Robert J. Freemyer
We humans measure everything. From the day we’re born (will he measure up to his father?) until the day we die (he climbed the ladder to the top) we consider most everything by measure. Recipes (Grandma used her hands to measure ingredients: a pinch of this a hand full of that), lubricants for our cars, the temperature, rainfall, the river, school grades, how we feel (Lord, his temperatures up to a hundred and two), and on and on. We measure people we meet by ‘sizing’ them up and that’s when our personal gauge kicks in (he’s a pleasant person; he’s an ugly guy; she’s a gossip, etc.). That’s okay unless you’re fool enough to judge a person you’ve just met by this gauge. But this morning I was thinking about our Age Gauge. There are many ways we measure our ago (graying hair, wrinkles, PMS, etc.) but I think the most important gauge of our own age is our Icons. No, not the ones on your desktop; the people we grew up with: our schoolmates and teachers; our musical singers, bands and sound; our political heroes; our war heroes and others who impressed us with their knowledge, talent or largesse. You and I can just about guess someone’s age by noting the music they enjoy, the movies they talk about, the political leaders they idolize, and, of course, that non-war hero who symbolizes all war heroes: John Wayne.
Someone sent me an e-mail the other day and asked me my age. I sent them one back that said: Rudolph Valentino made my grandma faint; my mother swooned over Frank Sinatra; Elvis was and still is the king; rap music is the biggest put on teenagers ever fell for; the three greatest presidents who ever held office in my time were Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy (a true war hero); Eisenhower and both Bush’s were elected by the default in American: the Republicans; I graduated with a high school class of 347 students of whom twenty percent are now buried; the greatest movie actor who ever lived was Richard Burton and the last actor who fit the classification of ‘Movie Star’ was Clark Gable. Mel Gibson is the only actor who deserves the title nowadays. Sex should never be under-rated as good exercise. Now, can you guess how old I am?