It’s What We Make Of It…

We all have days when it seems the world may be against us.  Nothing seems to be going our way, at least without a lot of additional push on our parts.  We just plain get demoralized and then we ‘sit and stew’ as a long-gone relative would say.  As I tuned in my radio this morning I caught an amazing basketball score but couldn’t remember the names of the teams.

Team 1 led Team 2 at half-time by a score of 53 to 19.  You already know where this is going, I’m sure.  Team 2 won that game by a handful of points.  How many times in our respective lives might we have eeked out a win if we’d just kept pushing all the way to that last minute on the clock?

We can be our own worst enemies in virtually all aspects of our lives if we do not give everything we do everything we have.  I know that we’ve probably had a ‘life coach’ in one or more stages of our lives that we’d have loved to be able to put in our rearview mirrors occasionally.  That person might’ve been a relative or a supervisor or a Pastor or just a very good friend.  We seem able to only take advice in small doses and that is especially true when we need that advice more than usual.

It almost seems that our ‘advisors’ are using a fire hose-sized dosage of advice when we are simply fed up with advice…period.  Those are the times when we simply feel that the entire world must be in the other corner.  In some of those situations, we find our way out to where the sun is shining brightly again, and in some situations, we seem to wallow in the personal funk for days…or longer.

All the good advice in our worldview is not going to help if we are not ready to accept that good advice.  How often do we look back at situations in life’s rearview mirror and finally admit that it was our own fault that we didn’t attain what we were striving for?  Or at least admit that we could’ve gotten to a more respectable place before we gave up the ghost?  We finally accept that we might have been the cause rather than someone else we’d blamed for that outcome.

If we are involved in team sports, maybe we needed to share more of the ‘credit’ for not winning.  If it is us vs. the world, maybe we were simply trying to climb a mountain higher than that we could handle given life experience and physical and mental preparation.  Maybe we should simply not have gotten ourselves into that situation. PERIOD.

Life is what we make of it.  If we are prone to giving up before the clock runs out, we are going to learn about losing more than we’d like.  If we are ready for Level One of anything but think we ought to be able to score well in Level Three, we need be ready for that life lesson that tells us, sometimes painfully, that we were wrong; that we were not ready for that level of challenge.

Of course, in this world of “It is what we make of it”, we always have the opportunity to place blame for poor results on the shoulders of others.  That occurs when we are unable to be man or woman enough to simply look ourselves in the eyes in that ‘mirror’ of life and admit that we took on more than we were prepared to handle.

And even that personal admission of some level of blame for the outcome is part of the “It is what we make of it” lesson.  That is when we finally may be getting to the point of understanding self, of knowing what our abilities were at that time compared to the abilities of those who bested us in whatever was the challenge du jour.

We see coaches in various situations that seem to know us better than we know ourselves.  Those are the people from whom we can learn a lot if we will permit that learning to take place.  I reserve my pity for those who do not seem to have it in themselves to reckon with what the world is trying to tell them, who bang their heads against the stone wall over and over again.

In a political sense, that person might be Hillary Clinton.   We are pretty safe in the assumption that this family has more than sufficient money to live out their lives in relative obscurity as non-political types but, like the moth attracted to the flame, they appear unable to reach the moment of personal truth.

In other situations, we see the coach who had aspirations of playing a sport professionally but who finally accepted that he or she was not quite of that caliber.  They might now be coaching others and doing very well at that level.  And still in love with their lives.

Everything in this life is what we make of it.  Some rise above significant challenges and achieve in other ways.  Some never get the message.  Some flop around like a fish out of the water as they move from acceptance to denial to acceptance to denial again.  Those of us who come to understand where we best fit and embrace that place are in the best of all worlds.

It is what WE make of it!   Of course, our Maker is ready to help us whenever we get there.

Maxine Speaks Her Mind…

If you remember the Maxine comic strip, the following (originally titled Right On Maxine!!!) piece provides an interesting take apparently fed by her creators or at least needing to be so attributed.  The original piece used the word ‘poot’ as a descriptive term; I chose to be cruder…but not too crude.

I bought a bird feeder.  I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed.  What a beauty of a bird feeder it was, as I filled it lovingly with seed.  Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food.

But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop.  It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table…everywhere!

Then some of the birds turned mean.  They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.

And other birds were boisterous and loud.  They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn’t sit on my own back porch anymore.  So I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone.  I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.

Soon the back yard was like it used to be…quiet, serene…and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now let’s see…Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care and free education, and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen.

Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands.  Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families; you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor; your child’s second grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn’t speak English.

Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to ‘press one’ to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than “ours” are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.

Just my opinion, but maybe it’s time for the government to take down the bird feeder.  If you agree, pass it on; if not, just continue cleaning up the poop!

Obviously, this targets the influx of aliens, some legal and some illegal.  This targets the talk about building a fence across our entire Southern border.  This targets the discussions on how secure our borders are and what we should allow and what should not be allowed.  These are very difficult subjects and these are subjects we are not always too interested in discussing for fear we’ll be seen as hateful people.  These are things that threaten to divide us.  These are things that we very probably would find okay if the influx were controlled to permit our economy to absorb the new population.

These are things that some politicians use to pin ugly “tails on the donkeys” who dare oppose their desires to add to their voter roles through such immigration.  It is true that there are some who are opposed for reasons we’d prefer didn’t exist.  To politicize this issue is a very bad way to try to resolve the issue and to help those we purportedly desire to help.

My solution for the bird feeder was simple: I didn’t like all the raucous Starlings but did like the Gold Finches.  I bought feeders that were only accessible by finches and even those cute little birds have some foul habits, but at least I was able to decide for myself what I felt I could accommodate.

Our immigration policies are in need of some changes and they are certainly in need of strong protection.  I don’t think we want to be forced to stop filling the feeder, but I believe we will be very resistant to simply opening our doors, and that is the proper way to consider things of such importance to us all.

Unfortunately, there is a political party that sees itself gaining from bringing as many immigrants into our country as can possibly happen; and, that party is willing to forego the proper vetting and the reasonable and rational manner in which we welcome these new people to our shores.

The Democrat Party’s leaders have chosen to use these people and this issue to their personal benefit.  That they only see these fellow humans as additional votes is despicable…and yet that is where they are at…and they get the very willing cooperation of the vast majority of those in the press who are also believers in liberal politics.

We have seen the opposition in all its dark splendor since our elected President Donald Trump assumed his position; and, we will continue to see this portrait of disgust unfolding for us daily for years to come.  Even the former President, who apparently does not believe he ought to have to follow the footsteps of all the other past Presidents, has begun his best effort to derail the conservatives and we can be assured that he and his cronies will continue down this path.

There needs be a certain sanity to our immigration rules.  We cannot take everybody and there are those in the mix whom we do not want to admit to our country and feed, for very valid reasons, to use my bird feeder analogy.  We have enough of a mess now; we do not need to knowingly add to those issues.

Cockamamie Ideas…

An interesting word that basically means: ridiculous, pointless, or nonsensical: full of wild schemes and cockamamie ideas.

There are good ideas, great ideas, poor ideas and cockamamie ideas.  If we live long enough, and if we pay attention to enough different sources, we’ll be conversant with this word.  There are people in our Congress who have a knack for the pronouncement of cockamamie ideas with the straightest face we’ve ever seen.  Some of those ideas come from backbenchers who simply strive to be noticed, and some come from veterans who really don’t need to resort to such things to attract notice.  They already garner sufficient facetime before the cameras to be noticed.

Some of those who garner sufficient time in office and before cameras actually would be doing themselves a favor to avoid that spot since they sound, and even look like they are wigged out as they prattle on to fill the requisite 45 to 60 seconds of face time.  This is intended to prove to the “the folks back home” that they are performing yeoman’s duty while in D.C.  Always working hard; always recognizing the interest of their constituents…at least until the bright light is off them and they can get on with the partying of the evening.

Cockamamie ideas are not the province of only politicians on the national stage; we see more than enough evidence of that on the various state stages around the country.  In some cases, this look gets down to community and county levels when opportunities for facetime make their presence known.  Some simply cannot avoid an opportunity for face time; it seems a genetic thing that, much like flies around a light on a dark night, causes the person to swarm toward those hot lights which mean there must be a TV camera somewhere.

Those who feel compelled to be seen over and over again might do themselves a favor if they’d step back, take a deep breath or two, and go the other way.  The act of giving a response to a question without having had the chance to mentally ‘respond’ to that question several times is almost always less effective than had been hoped for by the individual drawn to that bright light.  These are the moments that can break careers, especially careers that rely upon the support of the public.

Not all the ideas that get ‘blown up’ in such situations were bad ideas.  Had better thought been given to the presentation of the idea, it might’ve gone further; or, more thought might’ve produced the use of a better phrase or a more appealing name for the idea that could make all the difference in the outcome.

Given that potential, we begin to see that ideas don’t always have to be good in order to gain speed legislatively.  And, we see that packaging of ideas can make all the difference in the world as to the outcome.  And therein lies the danger that we could be romanced by a name and find ourselves in bed the next session with an ugly wretch of a bill with a wart on its nose that is a real turn-off.

The moral of this story, if there is a moral, is simple:  do not think everything that sounds good is really going to be good; that is especially true in politics and we seem destined to have to prove that to ourselves over and again.  We can sure make use of this filter system at the time of our vote in political races.  If the candidate sounds too good, too smooth, too self-assured, maybe we ought to step back and watch a bit.  If the candidate is not polished to a high shine, and if he or she doesn’t use a $5.00 word when a $0.50 word will do just as well, it might be that you’ve found that diamond-in-the-rough that needs some experience but is worth trusting even so since honesty and integrity outweighs appearance and brilliance many times over.

Be on the lookout for cockamamie ideas.  We’ve all seen and heard them, so recognizing that only requires that we listen and watch very carefully and closely.  A casual conversation can usually tell us if we’re talking with a liberal or a conservative…and a few more minutes can help to confirm we’ve found a real conservative, not just a poseur who knows the right words.

Take your time.  “True conservative” lasts forever while cockamamie also lasts a long time but does a lot of damage in the process of eventually being discovered and vetted.

WOW! Krugman Goes Off…

Paul Krugman is with the New York Times, not the most conservative news organization you’ll find, and he gives those of us in the G.O.P. (the Grand Old Party) what for in yesterday’s column.  His first paragraph began like this:

Even those who have long since accepted the premise that Donald Trump is corrupt, self-centered and dishonest seem a bit shocked by his tirades over the Presidents’ Day weekend.  Using the Parkland, Fla., massacre as an excuse to attack the F.B.I. for investigating Russian election intervention on his behalf – while lying about his own past denials that such intervention on his behalf – took vileness to a new low level, which is truly impressive given Trump’s previous record.

Many of us probably are not even aware that such tirades can pass for news writing anywhere in our country, but Mr. Krugman is here to tell us “that ain’t so”.  That he is a major ‘name’ contributor to that publication gives you a decent idea of its slant…no tilt is a better descriptor…and provides the counter-point of all counter-points to all things conservative in this world.

Another quote:

The sad content of modern Republican character is a symptom of the corruption and hypocrisy that has afflicted half our body politic – a sickness of the soul that manifests itself in personal behavior as well as policy.

He rails on until getting near the end of this diatribe:

And the character flaws of the party end up being echoed by the character flaws of its most prominent members.  Are they bad people who chose their political affiliation because it fits their proclivities, or potentially good people and good ideas on both sides, or whatever other bipartisan homily you want to recite.  We are, instead, living in a kakistocracy, a nation ruled by the worst, and we need to face up to that unpleasant reality.

Wow!  This screed is disgusting and sickening and ought to be embarrassing to the writer and to the people who publish this stuff.  This gives those of us in fly-over country a view of what passes for the liberal persuasion at least on the East coast.  I couldn’t/wouldn’t write with such hate driving me even if I wanted to…which I do not and will not ever want to do.

This also explains full well why we have an Electoral College that the largest states would love to do away with; the liberal element is champing at the bit to rid this country of conservatives’ reasonableness which apparently has now become the sole domain of us conservatives.  I don’t recall ever such a venomous spewing from a conservative.  I am not sure that any one of us could write such things and ascribe our name to the writing.

That he would dare bring the very concept of a soul into his screed says a world of things about the man and his belief system.

All things considered, I prefer my belief system to his and I’ll stay on the straight and narrow conservative pathway.  And, given this is the day to vote, I will exercise my rights as I do every time I have the opportunity to vote.  I encourage you to do the same and I encourage you to stay the conservative course.

Can you even begin to imagine a world run by the Krugman’s of our time?  I cringe and I give thanks to the Lord above… I guess that revelation makes me even more of the proverbial neer-do-well.  Thank God for our freedoms.  May we keep our country strong and may we blunt the forces of evil that would destroy our way of life.  And may Mr. Krugman find peace at the end of his journey…for he certainly seems in anguish in the here and now.

Unfortunate, But Certain As Sunrise…

We as a country have experienced a terrible occurrence with mass killings of students by another student armed with what looks like a military weapon but which is “civilianized”, and the press, with rare exception, runs to microphones and TV cameras with supposed experts to damn such weapons.  The students involved were used, yes used, to promote an anti-gun agenda on a national TV program which featured Rush Limbaugh on the other side of the debate/discussion.

The students were well-versed and spoke with confidence and authority (as much authority as victims of such an occurrence could possess) and the jolt of adrenalin that was brought about by their proximity to the disaster and loss of lives we learned of soon after the occurrence.

This was intended for nothing other than the hit job it was against lawful weapons which had been again used by someone who had issues and acted out on those issues.  The national TV platform was perfect for this effort by the press and those who believe all guns ought to be taken away from citizens.  The students were well-spoken, and I suspect well-coached given their knowledge of the weapon used and the dramatic presentations that we watched and heard.

I thought it clever of the network to use Rush Limbaugh as the counter-point given his known volatility for some people no matter the topic, coupled with the sympathy for those involved and the despicable actions of the person who did the killing.  Of course, the solution for everything of this nature is to seize all bad weapons, ban them from sale and damn the people who would own such dastardly things as guns.  I do not know how this group would define what an acceptable weapon might be short of a single shot .22 caliber squirrel rifle such as I used to plink with before that dastardly Army trained me in the use of everything from a .45 pistol to rapid-fire rifles, 4.2-inch mortars, and even 155mm artillery weapons.

I have yet to kill anything larger than a squirrel, by the way, and I do not believe that will ever change at this point in my life.  I understand that I am setting myself up as a target of verbal disgust for those who do not understand anyone who would even think of pulling a trigger on a pistol or long-gun.  Maybe a slingshot with a small stone would pass muster but nothing else.

I do understand the grief that is used by some to propel the argument against weapons of any kind.  I do understand the TV network framing the students as the crusaders who have rallied to fight back against those who possess guns.  Little that the opposition voices against the ownership and enjoyment of guns surprises me anymore.  The vilest arguments and attacks on character have occurred.  Now we must apparently be subjected to the teenage wisdom of the students who were subjected to this horror by a member of their own group.  The deployment of that well-spoken and sympathy-gathering group as the crusaders against guns is probably well-meant but they are being used and that part of all this is very disgusting.

The timing of this show couldn’t have come at what the opponents of firearms thought was a better time…and it was driven by a television network that saw all this wonderful attention that could be focussed on what is apparently that network’s driven end…the outlawing of all weapons the network bigwigs and on-camera people think ought to be done away with.  The use of these kids, even though they were obviously excited about their TV debut, was calculated to produce the greatest adverse impact possible from this terrible occurrence.  The inclusion of Rush Limbaugh in the program was used to gather viewership as well as to use a person who isn’t uniformly loved and looked up to for the purposes of adding another element for people to despise and/or hate.

This was one of worst demonstrations of the freedom of the press that I have witnessed.  This was one-sided and intentionally done to gain the greatest readership and make the point over and over again about how bad guns are, so bad that even Rush Limbaugh thinks they are great or he wouldn’t have permitted himself to be placed it that position.

This was a double hit-job that used those students.  Despicable is too nice a word to describe this network’s actions.  By the way, Rush held his own and came out on top, from my perspective, even though this was a foul-smelling set-up about which that network and host ought to be ashamed of forever.  I wonder what the host’s father would think his son’s actions yesterday; I sincerely doubt he’d have been party to this hit-job.

Russian Meddling…

The Special Counsel has issued indictments against Russians he says were involved in misinformation antics that were intended to influence our elections.  I have no doubt that is occurring in even more subtle ways that may or may not be part of what has been exposed in these indictments.  Time will tell.

There is a more insidious effort ongoing that we ought to be investigating and for which some penalties ought to be announced on a fairly regular basis.  Our major news sources have biases and we are impacted by those biases on an almost daily basis.  That may be even more insidious than what these Russians are accused of since we might’ve been suspicious of those plants depending upon where they were found.

We have a daily intake of the media coverage of ‘news’ and we tend to take that information as being factual, nonbiased, and complete.  There is a bias to virtually everything we receive from our readings, from television, and from the written word.  I am biased but I try to be honest about my biases.

I am a conservative and I am proud of that bias since I believe it to be more the truth than that I am fed from liberals and supposedly middle-of-the-road commentators and publications.  I believe that we are better served by what we know to be the biases of those we might place stock in than we are served by those claiming to have no biases.

I am honest in what I portray and I am proud to be able to tell you I am a conservative.  You at least know where I claim to be coming from and you can adjust your “believability barometer” accordingly.  There may be days when you think I have crept over the line, but you were alert enough to see that and know that it didn’t align with your own biases.

The point is simple: we are all biased; everything we see and hear is biased; if we believe that not to be the case, we have deceived ourselves and are more the fools than those who portrayed themselves as unbiased.  Some claim to be unbiased because they really believe that to be the case.  Others claim to be unbiased because they just don’t know any better.  Still other make those claims to fool us into accepting what they are about to say as fact.

Among the more interesting things in the discussion is this: we find far more conservatives telling us they are conservatives; and, we find very few liberals telling us they are liberals.  That should actually tell us almost everything we need to know in these matters.  If someone claims to be pure unadulterated middle-of-the-road, watch out.  You are being played as the sucker, although you may have yet to determine if from the right or from the left.

I am far more comfortable with the person who is honest about his or her opinions being expressed; they share their biases proudly because those are the basis for their belief system.

I am skeptical of those who tell me they are conservative until they prove to me that is what they are.  I am skeptical of those who tell me they are liberal until they prove to me that is what they are.  I am HIGHLY skeptical of those claiming to have no bias because that is, in my opinion, an impossibility other than in a newborn infant and I seldom have conversations with them.

Let us get back to Special Counsels for a moment.  Do they have biases?  Absolutely! Should they issue that warning before they expound on their opinions?  Absolutely!  By the time we reach the age of twenty-one we have formed or are nearly fully formed in terms of our thinking and the biases we bring to any conversation.

That, frankly, is why I am very concerned with the fact that some, or more than some, of our primary and secondary education, is delivered by those who are more liberal than they are conservative.  Their teachings are distorted by their personal beliefs (of which they may not even be aware) and we need to make allowances for that possibility.  We who are conservative and who are parents can mitigate that impact if we understand those realities.  But I digress.

We are far better off if we are skeptics until the deliverer of information has proved to us what he or she leans toward in terms of his or her basis for beliefs.  Am I saying we should abandon all discussion with liberals if we are conservative or vice versa?  Absolutely not.  But I am saying we ought to be as quick a read of that person and his or her biases as is possible so we know how to take the information we are hearing or reading.

Very little of what we hear or read is truly factual only.  Even in courts of law, the judge is careful to admonish those who stray…even though the judge may also be either conservative or liberal and that should help us determine the veracity of his or her opinions compared to what our opinions are.  We see this at the level of the U.S. Supreme Court; why would we think it any different at all the levels up to that epitome of courts?

Conservatives cheer for the appointment of more conservative justices just as the liberals cheer for more liberal justices.  Bias is a simple reality, and it exists to one degree or another in everyone we encounter…and until we’ve formed an opinion as to which way the person leans it is not possible to accept anything as non-biased.  We can only try to assess degrees of biases and the leanings of those with the biases we’ve identified.

It is much safer for us to be a bit skeptical in our relationships until we’ve been able to reach the point of a more informed, more accurate opinion.

Congress Can’t Win…Nor Can We

We place our congressional representatives in a bad place when we deliver mixed messages.  On the one hand, we tell them we want cuts across the board but we then follow that by whining when something we like is cut back or even eliminated.

I’m not necessarily saying that we send schizophrenics to Washington, D.C.  We do send 535 people from all across this country.  We send those people whom we think will do the best job.  Some of us send people who promise to cut this and cut that.  Some we send are sent because they promise to give us this, that or the other thing.

If you spend any time studying Congress as an institution, you see that compromise and/or embarrassing the other side is the name of most of the games played in our Congress.  There are many issues that should have no left or right to them, but still, those issues are twisted and torn as the sides argue (they call it debating) between themselves over this nit or that nat.

Our Congress has perfected the debate/argument art form to the point where we find it difficult to follow the line of reasoning even after the whole process for a particular item has been concluded.  There is also that little item of rules that have been developed and which have evolved over hundreds of thousands of hours of debate.  Some of these seem archaic but they continue to be invoked from time to time.

I believe we’d find, after a very detailed study, that Congress has fully developed the ability to talk for hours and hours without achieving a thing other than to have embarrassed a colleague or struck a deal no one saw coming through the use of this archaic art form.

We do know that much of the arguing actually occurs between members of the same party rather than with members of one party arguing with members of the other party.  The Republicans show that vividly when the 41 members of the more conservative group of Representatives stake out positions that rile the less conservative members of their caucus to the delight of the Democrats who sit back chortling to themselves over the spectacle.

We also know that some of what we witness is done even though those doing so know it has absolutely nothing to do with anything on the floor at the time.  Why is that done?  It is done to embarrass the other party usually during televised sessions where points can be scored with constituents at the expense of the other party.  A lot of time is spent in such theatre.

There is enough of this to go around for both parties but we who have favorites tend to see only the flaws and faults of the opposition party members.  We, again, seem to be the real problem.  We do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result than we got the last time.  Or, we watch angrily as the other side uses our own tactics against us.

Some days we seem to lose all touch with reality as we watch the “do-nothing” Congress as we’ve become accustomed to calling those sessions.  You and I have these problems because we are not sitting in Congress.  We sit in the real world where we talk to people and understand each other because we do not engage in the high theater known as “national politics”.  We actually meet with those we’ve sent to Washington when they are in their home districts and we think they are great, they aren’t part of the problem…but that changes when they get off the airplane in the District of Columbia.

There are certain things that simply aren’t likely to change in that rarified atmosphere we call the District of Columbia.  Even if you or I were sent to Washington through election to an office situated there, we would gradually change without even really understanding that we had changed.  That, I believe speaks well for the idea of term limits.  Term limits are the tool that might have an effect on the change in behavior we see over time from those we send to the District for years.  If we invoked that solution, we’d have to weigh the loss in institutional memory that sometimes plays very heavily in the outcomes of debates.

There is no simple solution to the issue that the District of Columbia effects change upon its occupants.  It happens in spite of people really trying to remain just as they were before going to our nation’s Capitol to do the work we ask of them.  Oh sure, there are some who love the affectation they adapt like chameleons as they set foot on that ground and breath the rarified atmosphere.  Those are the people we may need to give thought to bringing home after a time and replacing them with someone who has yet to catch D.C. influenza.

We complain about “do nothing” Congresses and yet by sending the same people term-after-term, we are guilty of creating that of which we complain.  Go figure!