Category Archives: Citizenship

Homeless: A Man Without a Country

Homeless

A few months ago, I concluded I am a man without a country.  “How can that be?”, you ask.  After all, I have a home, a rather spacious, nice home near the beach in a generally warm southern state right here in the good old USA. I pay income and property taxes on time to the federal government, the state government, the county and my municipality.  So far as I know I am not in arrears, so there will be no sheriff’s sale of my property to the highest bidder. I vote in the majority of elections. For timing reasons—mostly travel and not being in the right place—I have missed a few elections over the course of my life, but not many more. (Can’t see that elections matter all that much anymore.) With perhaps two exceptions, I have always voted for the Republican or the conservative candidate believing that, on the whole, Republicans were for “less government and lower taxes.” I have now permanently dismissed the “Vote Republican for less government and lower taxes” slogan as nothing more than a political bromide, a political platitude. I have more or less permanent indigestion from being enticed to swallow the policies that Republicans and their democratic allies have cajoled me to ingest.

In 2016, it took a change of heart for me to vote for Donald Trump for President, as I didn’t really care for him, and I liked his style of campaigning even less. Two considerations turned me toward him, enabling me to vote for him:  1. My best friend Hank proudly admitted that he was an ardent Trump supporter. I have known Hank almost 55 years. We’re cut from the same conservative cloth. Knowing that Hank liked Donald Trump encouraged me to reevaluate his candidacy. 2. I listened intently to Trump’s speech before the Union League Club in Philadelphia prior to the election, wherein he unequivocally stated that he was for strong borders and a strong military. “O.K.,” thought I, “If Trump is for strong borders and a strong military, then I will vote for him.”  After all, without borders, you haven’t a country and without a strong military, you haven’t one either. With both— even if you are on the other side of the political argument—we can argue all day long about policy differences. With neither, we will spend the majority of each day defending ourselves, our lives and our rights: what I would indelicately refer to as “struggling to prevent having your pocket picked and your ass shot off.” I know someone in the military who had that happen to him in battle. As he sadly told me, missing one cheek is extremely uncomfortable when one is sitting.  I would hate to lose both.

So, I am a man without a country, soon to be, anyway. Why? My vote doesn’t count and the institutions I support and believe in—the church, a government based on the Constitution of the United States of America and a free press— where open and honest debate are encouraged— are not being supported by those for whom I vote and those who claim to uphold the Constitution and champion the First Amendment. Neither of the latter two institutions is being supported by those who have benefited the most from them: millennials. Even my college, whose founding dates back to before the founding of our country, doesn’t encourage open and honest debate. Seems the snowflakes on campus are not limited to wintertime. Many, if not most all, of the professors are liberal, just like when I attended, and my college sports the typical array of liberal cause-embracing campus organizations and special interest groups. The college accepts federal money for the usual reasons, student loans, for instance, which gives the federal government enormous sway and control over many decisions. (In contrast, Hillsdale College does not take any federal money for any reason, and so the federal government does not affect policy and influence the curriculum in the way it does at my college.) Hello Hillsdale! Might you have space in one of your dorms? I am open to being a perpetual student. 

In my youth, I believed that my civic duty was to vote to elect candidates whom I believed would carry out my wishes. As a conservative, I always voted for less government and lower taxes at all three levels of government: local, state and federal. Voting since age 18—I am now 60—in 42 years, the closest I ever came to achieve that for which I voted was during the Reagan administration, January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989.  What a blessed time! What an inspiration Reagan was! He had charm and a knack—honed over many years in films and hosting “General Electric Theater.” 

So, here’s my record: 42 years of voting and only 8 years of achievements. How does that happen in a center-right country? It happens because of character weakness of the men and women for whom I have voted. (Mostly men, come to think of it.) Every election my candidate would make promises, and after every election cycle he would break them, often with apologies for not having had enough like-minded men and woman on our side to make a difference. Balderdash! Almost every single time. Phooey! Additionally, it’s not possible for me or the average citizen to watch every single piece of legislation wrought by these men and women. Weasels will ultimately only serve themselves. Making at least some effort to keep them in check, taking my late father’s sage advice, I would call and write or email on issues of great concern to me, often hoping to influence votes, but as far as I could tell, that never happened, not a single time.  At some point it became clear to me that my candidates were always going to vote the way they wanted—serving their own narrow political interest—no matter what I had written or said on the phone. Clearly, powerful, influential forces worked behind the scenes, pressuring these men and women with much greater will than the drive to embrace the concerns of their constituents. Otherwise, we would have almost no peacetime federal debt (currently $22 trillion), lower income taxes, a solvent social security system, no AMT, no inheritance tax, and we surely wouldn’t have the sham of all shams, Obamacare.

Along came Donald Trump, not my favorite candidate.  (I was a Ben Carson man, then a Ted Cruz man.) Although I deplore some of his methods and tactics, Trump beat 16 candidates, if memory serves, most of whom were RINOs (“Republican’s In Name Only”). I remain mystified as to what the Republican National Committee was thinking when they allowed such a crowded field, unless the unspoken goal was to assist the GOP voter in diluting his vote and his losing faith in the electoral process in order to elect Hilary Clinton. To my mind, having more than 6 challengers in any political party is a waste of time and money. I haven’t funded the RNC in years. I will give them my money when you produce a candidate that truly lowers my taxes and gets rid of the AMT. 

Donald Trump beat every candidate to the cheers of millions who attended his rallies.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them; I never caught the fever. Despite early misgivings, on Inauguration Day he even had me popping champagne and weeping for joy that the scourge of Barrack Obama’s presidency had finally ended. I loved President Trump’s inaugural address—taking to my feet and applauding several times throughout. “How could anyone who loves America not be ecstatic?”, so I thought.  As I replayed President Trump’s speech again recently, over and over I pondered, “Whatever happened to that promise?” I believed in him, but it looks like he too, is going to let me down. So sad! Beyond sad, it’s a tragedy for the nation, for America. For sure a reluctant convert, I felt he was the only political hope I had left.

Lately, I have been thinking, “When are we conservatives going to mobilize?” As I wrote earlier, I for one am choking to death on political bromides and platitudes. To hell with them and those who utter them!  We citizens write our representatives. We vote for those whom we think will fight our battles, ending up with the likes of Senators Thom Tillis and Susan Collins. We converse endlessly among ourselves—expressing vehement outrage, outright disgust and forlorn chagrin, but we do not cause change like the liberals. We don’t take peaceful protest to the streets. Despite the prevalence of Fox News and AM talk radio, we’re perpetually on the losing end of every legislative battle with such vacuous compromises that just put us further behind. We have a minority of the press outlets in our own country.  Forget about the new media. I used to have a voice on the internet, now I am shadow-banned by both Facebook and Twitter.  Where is the counterbalance for that? “Hello FCC?, I would like to report an oligopoly.”   Meanwhile, someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grows in power by preaching lies to the exponentially-increasing uninformed.  Spouting pure sophistry—I hesitate to use that word— as her specious sanctimony insults the logic of the sophists. Joseph Goebbels….here we go again. This time the goal is to politically suffocate the conservative citizenry and euthanize our once magnificent republic.

I pose the question: “Do I really have to vote anymore?” If my elected representatives from the President on down betray my trust, that’s bad enough. Worse, the opposition party, the Democrats, openly advocate socialist policies, open borders and confer de facto citizenship to anyone, regardless of health or criminal history. Democrats have fought every single attempt by President Trump to secure our southern border, aided and abetted by feckless Republicans. Democrats openly advocate letting millions of people flood our country who—strangers to our culture and the rule of law—come without money, without jobs, without certificate of vaccination, and often with violent criminal records. Staunchly opposed to the Second Amendment for their own citizens (us), Democrats see no problem with letting illegal alien gun smugglers and terrorists flow across the border at will. Illegal aliens don’t pay taxes; they draw from the federal and state funds of those of us who do.  Without controlling this rampant illegal immigration, the Democrats will nullify my vote if they haven’t already. 

If I pay taxes to a corrupt system to support those who do not pay taxes, doesn’t that make me a bound serf?  After all, I am forced to pay by threat of legal confiscation of my property. In some states, illegals can vote without ID, and they can receive benefits. Arguably, by receiving benefits and not paying taxes, illegals enjoy more rights than I do. Only a fool would vote to elect leaders who prioritize the rights of non-citizens over his own rights as a citizen.  Yet, with very few exceptions, that is exactly what most Americans, including myself, end up doing.  Wittingly and unwittingly. 

By nefarious design of politicians whom I once trusted, almost voiceless and soon to be disenfranchised, truly, I am a man without a country.

Sandman

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Image: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

 

Photo credit: top of page: Everett Historical/Shutterstock

Wall? What Wall?

Wait, something doesn’t add up: If you’re President Donald J. Trump and you have a 52% approval rating from the American people, and you are negotiating with Congress, asking for $5.7 billion to fund a border wall along our southern border, and you only get less than a quarter of what you requested, $1.375 billion, even though you shut the Federal government down to make your point, you lost. In my rarely humble opinion. We, the American people, just like Charlie Brown have been rolled again! We’re being played….

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Photo credit: diy 13/Shutterstock

Lest I remind you ladies and gentlemen in Congress:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3

Here it is, just in case time has played tricks on your memories:

“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God” (5 U.S.C. §3331).

If you won’t properly fund the wall to protect our southern border, it strikes me that you are in violation of your oath of office.

What obligation do I have as a citizen to follow your laws, when you will not abide by your oath of office in pursuit of your most fundamental obligation as my representative?  After all, you are in effect saying that my citizenship has no value….

 

Photo credit: top of page – Sherry V Smith/Shutterstock

Advice to My Son….

Still thinking about Father’s Day….

Beating to windward! Ah, how I love that point of sail! Ah, how I love that phrase!  Actually, I love all points of sail;  each has its own rhythm, its own disciplines. To be sure, it is a rhythm with which you must learn to be in sync, and you must adhere to the disciplines or you will betray your course. I’ve been sailing since I was 14, even before that, but at 14, my friend Chris and a few other contemporaries–instructors–who were way ahead of me, made sure that I knew how to handle the helm.  I never was much of a racer, but I have a life-long love of sailing thanks to the Yacht Club at Point O’Woods. 

If you’ve read my post, “Advice to My Daughter,” you know that I do not have a daughter. Well, most unfortunately, I do not have a son either.   About the closest I can come to a son is my young friend Sean, whose career I have followed since he rode his bicycle from the next town over many years ago to mow my lawn.  I have tried not to drown him in advice. Thankfully, he had a dad, a wonderful one at that, who taught him all kinds of practical knowledge, in addition to what I would call the Christian basics. Sean is as bright a young man, as worldly smart as any, but he can also tear apart a car and rebuild it in a manner befitting the best racing mechanics on the track. 

If I had a son, what would I teach him?  If I only had two pieces of advice to give, well, they would probably be “love your neighbor and “love the Lord with all your heart.” Beyond those biblical missives, “learn to sail and get a boat” would surely follow. “Start with a small one you can handle and work your way up to a cruising sailboat. I’ll teach you what I know, and we can fill out the rest of your education with sailing courses, if need be.” My first boat was a Sunfish, my second and last, a 35 foot Catalina sloop.  What a jump!  You cannot “strike a match on a buoy in a 35 foot sloop,” I admonished my cousin Robert during one sail. The Sunfish belonged to my brother Brian, and I bought the Catalina 350 myself. Between ownership of those two of hulls, I assiduously avoided doing what I loved, sailing. Early on, I practiced on Cape Cod Mercuries, fooled around on Thistles and even crewed aboard a graceful Zephyr and Narrasketuck or two.  The latter two boats will take you back in time….

“Sailing and maintaining your own boat will teach you just about every skill you need to advance in life, especially if you own one big enough to invite others aboard, either as passengers or crew.”

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Photo credit: cdrin/Shutterstock

That’s what I would tell my boy, if I had one. Continuing on: 

“Sailboats require work.” You cannot just turn on the engine, point the bow and and run from point A to point B as power boats do.  If the wind is in your favor going out, it will be against you coming back, unless it changes during the day. The same is true for the tide. “If the wind and wave oppose, you’ll get the heck beaten out of you. So, you have to plan your trip.” 

“Your crew can turn a pleasant sail into hell on the water.” Not everyone likes to sail. “I don’t like it when it tips,” is a sentence I have heard many a trip. No matter how I tried, I could never convince some reluctant crew members that we weren’t going over. He or she had apparently never been exposed to a pendulum. I had a girl I was dating who actually thought we were not going to make it under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge when she spied it from our location off Ellis Island. Despite the fact that I assured her I had been underneath at least 100 times, she just wouldn’t take my word for it! Choose the wrong person or people, and you are in for a miserable day, morning, afternoon or evening.  “As captain, you learn quickly who can be trusted, who is lazy, selfish or short of patience. You learn who has a Napoleon complex, who thinks he or she is a better sailor.  As captain, you learn to forgive and who forgives.”   In all the time I sailed aboard my boat, I only had to put two people off, one bi-polar young lady (I decided she had to go), and the other–let’s just say– he decided to return to shore of his own volition. With his USCG license, he outranked me, and I wasn’t slavishly taking his direction aboard my boat. It was clear, however, that neither person had the respect for the captain, the boat or for the other crew I had aboard, and this was a situation I couldn’t tolerate. “You don’t have time for people who don’t respect you.” 

“As captain, USCG licensed or not, you are responsible for the safety of your boat and your crew at all times. If you don’t want to be in charge and take the risk, you shouldn’t be captain. If you want to be crew, be crew.  No shame in crewing, but make yourself invaluable.” Captains don’t have it easy.  Twenty-four-seven responsibility is the reason, I never drank a drop of alcohol when I was at the helm. I also watched the amount of alcohol my crew consumed, if they drank at all. (Two beer limit over an afternoon.)  Most drank nothing, as I kept them busy trimming the jib or main.  “If you want to find out what someone is made of, teach them a skill and give them a job.” I would share the wheel frequently. “A drunk crew is useless in an emergency and might even create one. Forget about drugs.” If you strike a match aboard my boat, it better be to light a barbecue grill.  Stoners never boarded my boat. If someone was feeling seasick or uneasy, I would turn to him or her and say, “I’m not feeling that well myself, you had better take the wheel.”  You would be amazed how well people responded. “Challenge your crew; give them a reason to be aboard.”  Thank you Ernie McVey.  (it’s been a long time. Hope I got your name right.) 

“Finally, the boat itself must be well-provisioned and kept in great shape, since there are no pit-stops at sea. You have to learn to make do with what you have.” From hardware to provisions, you had better have planned ahead.  You cannot repair engines and your boat with tools and hardware you don’t have, and you cannot dine on what you didn’t bring.   Fire extinguishers are a must. I have put out two fires in my life, and one was aboard my boat.  Quick thinking and actions by me and Captain Harris who helped me sail her from North Carolina to New Jersey saved us from having a smoldering tachometer turn into a raging inferno. Great team effort. (Floating fiberglass hulks that have burned to the waterline are not a pretty sight.) As luck and planing on my part would have it, I happened to have the exact replacement part aboard. (The tachometer hadn’t been operating correctly before the trip.  Something told me I needed to have a spare.) We were able to make it to port where timely repairs could be made. “The right tool in your toolbox is vital.”  If I reached for a tool on my boat to find that I didn’t have it, the next trip out I would have whatever it was stowed safely below. 

“You learn so much about yourself–what makes you tick, and about your crew, when you sail. Every day–fair weather or foul–can be a learning experience.”  This is why I have always loved sailing.  The wind and the waves can be unpredictable and unforgiving at times.  “Much like life, you have to be practical, and have to rely upon common sense honed by experience.” Electronics can help you, but they cannot save you if you don’t know what you are doing.  “Men have been sailing for thousands of years. Learn a bit of the wisdom they knew.” In a gale, or a bad storm, you can lose your boat, a limb or even your life, not to mention the lives of your crew, if you are not careful.  “Prepare and prepare, but you still learn your most valuable lessons through trial and error.” Hopefully, your trials and your errors won’t cost you too much.  Ask me about dislocating my left shoulder sometime.  I would chance dislocating the other one for one more opportunity to sail aboard my Catalina. 

For the love of the sailing–to me the essence of freedom–you learn and you challenge yourself.  You sail day in and day out regardless of weather in hope of the gentle zephyrs gracing your boat.  Ah zephyrs….

Sandman

P. S.  Begun in June, I am still not sure this is ready for prime time.

 

(Photo credit – top of page Sailing Yacht: Cameris/Shutterstock)

 

 

 

 

Who is John McCain?

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

John McCain Tweet of June 9, 2018.

John McCain, United States Senator from the State of Arizona, those are your words. You haven’t apologized, so I think you are standing by them. I did a little research on you, just a little. Turns out, you’ve been in Congress almost as long as I have been out of college. You first ran for the House of Representatives in 1982 after leaving the Navy in 1981. You have been in the Senate from 1987 up until the present time. You say you’re a Republican—and though it is a personal reflection on my part—I cannot remember a single time that you voted in favor of a conservative Republican piece of legislation, not a single time when your vote actually counted, not once. If memory serves, you’re always part of one of those “gangs”—you know, “The Gang of Five” or “The Gang of Eight,” who usually stand in the way of some important piece of conservative legislation. (Usually one that I and millions of others favor.)  I could go through your voting record here, boring my readers; however, it is well known. No, I am not going to waste their time. You, sir, have a much greater sin for which I would like you to answer. I doubt you’ll take the time, so I’m going to have to leave your answer up to the Almighty.

Since you are suffering with cancer and dying, I wish to be somewhat delicate with my observations and criticism. (I have prayed for you, by the way.) Cancer is horribly, wretchedly painful. I know, because I have watched my best friend and many other friends and relatives whom I have loved dearly die from this dreaded scourge. Herewith a short list of the types of cancer: pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, metastatic lung cancer, the last having claimed my dad. He survived the battle of Iwo Jima, but metastatic lung cancer claimed this fearless Marine in his 89th year. Watching cancer steal one of the brightest Marines to ever fight in the Corps was horrific and personally devastating, to say the least. Thus, I mean it when I say I do not wish you any more pain than what you presently suffer. I do not even wish you that pain, because I have empathy, even for those to whom I am manifestly politically opposed. On some level, one must have compassion for one’s enemies, Would you not agree? I use the term enemy here as a figure of speech, a metaphor, if you will. Not that you are my enemy—though we seem diametrically opposed when it comes to our interpretation of your constitutional duty—disagreeing mightily about what you tweeted. Many would question my compassion for having taken you on at this time in your life while on your deathbed. I would not have done so, but apparently you chose to enter the political fray right up until your last breath, so as far as I am concerned, your tweet invites a response, a defense of our Constitution, the very same gifted to us by God through our framers.  I never learned to fence, but I venture to say, “A sword raised by one’s opponent from any position is an invitation to spar, thrust and parry.” 

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Photo credit: Boris-B/Shutterstock

Before I go any further, I must acknowledge your service in Vietnam and most definitely your time as a prisoner of war, where from all accounts, you endured unspeakable horrors, cruelty, and torture—conduct on the part of your captors and beyond squalid conditions that would surely have killed me—and behaved in an exemplary fashion. You even let other prisoners return home first. Your conduct made you a hero to me because you behaved in a most heroic manner. Unfortunately, a man who is a hero at one time in his life does not always behave heroically. History is replete with tawdry examples of the fallen soldier, heroic in battle only to live the remainder of his life as the worst of alcoholics in peacetime. Fallen, his heroic deeds may ultimately outweigh his misdeeds, but judgement is for the fine screen of history and the even finer screen of our Lord.  Thankfully, some, like Louis Zamperini, find Christ and redeem themselves during their lifetimes.  Humility through Christ is the key to redemption.   

Thank you, Senator McCain, for your service in the Navy and for your exemplary, brave conduct while a prisoner in Vietnam. 

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Photo credit: r.classen/Shutterstock

Let us return to the present: Senator McCain, did you not take an oath to support and defend the Constitution? I double-checked just now and the oath which the Constitution requires you to take has been in force since the 1860s. The primary purpose of the present wording, according to www.senate.gov, was to root out traitors. Remember these words?  You should; you have repeated them often enough. 

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. Senate Oath of Office.

So, Senator McCain, you did take an oath. You took an oath before God to “support and defend the Constitution…against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” What about “…bear true faith and allegiance…”?  Tell me sir, where does “pro-globalization” fit in? I am puzzled. Where exactly is the “pro-globalization” Article in the United States Constitution?  Our Constitution has seven Articles. Globalization isn’t one of them.  I do not see it in the Sections either. Forgive my ignorance, but is not globalization a process whereby the nation state—in this case the United States of America—is minimized in favor of a global entity run by a largely unaccountable administrative bureaucracy answering only to a ruling elite? How is that “supporting and defending” our Constitution?   What about “We the People…”? Have you ever noticed that “People” is capitalized? Capitalization must mean that the framers of our Constitution thought that we the people were important.  Did I miss something? 

What exactly do you mean by the words “pro-globalization”? And, while I am on the subject of your tweet, what do you mean by undercutting our duly elected President of the United States, Donald J. Trump? (Sorry if you dislike him.) Did not the Electoral College settle the matter of who is in charge at present? Poor Hilary, if only she could accept it, but that would mean adhering to the rule of law. (Forgive me, I digress.) What about the old adage: “Politics ends at the water’s edge.” Remember that oft quoted line? One of your fellow Republicans, Arthur Vanderberg, said it. What is it about your ego that you would not take his sage advice:

To me, “bipartisan foreign policy” means a mutual effort, under our indispensable two-party system, to unite our official voice at the water’s edge so that America speaks with maximum authority against those who would divide and conquer us and the free world. It does not involve the remotest surrender of free debate in determining our position. On the contrary, frank co-operation and free debate are indispensable to ultimate unity. In a word, it simply seeks national security ahead of partisan advantage. Every foreign policy must be totally debated (and I think the record proves it has been) and the “loyal opposition” is under special obligation to see that this occurs.

I found the above  quotation in  The Huffington Post .

Here we are with President Trump travelling to North Korea to potentially end the Korean War, a war we have been engaged in for all intents and purposes since June 25th 1950, and you, rather than stand down and show unity with our President to the face of our enemy, decide to undercut him with a tweet to the world. Tell me, do you remember when Jane Fonda visited the North Vietnamese while you were in prison in Vietnam?  Did that help your cause? While you were in the Navy, were you ever insubordinate to your commanding officer? No? Why then do you think you can dictate foreign policy to the world, usurping the role of President Trump, our duly-elected commander-in-chief?

A wise friend once told me: “People don’t change; you only get more of the same.”  You might say the good become better, and the bad become worse. Having been betrayed many times, and literally having had to jettison all manner of scoundrels from my life, I quite agree.  To this I might add: “True personal change is rare. A person only changes if he or she sincerely wants to change, and if the benefits of such change outweigh the negatives.” So, during the past 36 years, what happened to your character in Washington, D. C.? What became of the man who made the nation proud back in 1973? By the way, did you read my last blog entitled: “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…” about Ivanka Trump, wherein I wrote that I thought the word weasel should be in the dictionary as a definition for the word politician? Just curious.

Toward the end of a man’s life, one can see who he really is, and what is important to him by his deeds and the the company he keeps. One can take the measure of the man, so to speak. Personally, I would rather remember the John McCain who behaved so admirably in Vietnam. I sincerely doubt I am alone.

Sandman

 

(Photo credit at top of page-McCain: Krista Kennell/Shutterstock)

If you can’t say anything nice…

Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.
Henri Nouwen

With the recent tasteless remarks of Samantha Bee hurled toward Ivanka Trump, can we civilized folk now not all agree that we need to end such vicious, vulgar discourse? Is this invective not the lowest of the low when it comes to remarks? As a man, had I said something like that, even without a microphone, I would suffer no end of justified attacks, not to mention suspension of my social media accounts. Ivanka Trump, whether you like her or not, is the very accomplished daughter of the President of the United States, who just happens to be Donald Trump, whether you like him or not. I happen to like both of them; although, I have only briefly met President Trump, shaking his hand back when he was changing the skyline of New York, as I delivered some documents. That was over 35 years ago. I cannot help but admire Ivanka for what she has done in the world of fashion. If you ask me why I like President Trump now, I will give you two reasons, actually three:  1. He’s pro-America and a great cheerleader. 2. He’s pro-military and realizes the magnitude of the threat we face. 3. He’s for strong borders and fully comprehends you cannot have a country without those.  We disagree from time to time, and I make my objections clear in my blog, Facebook page and tweets, but I am with him, and with every battle he wins against the political establishment, I like him more and more. He’s my president and until he proves otherwise, I trust him to move the ship of our state in the right direction. As for Ivanka, I say, give her the respect that her position demands. I see no reason to do otherwise.  

I am not very fond of a lot of politicians. Don’t know any one of them well enough to say that I know members of his or her family. (Not sure if Bill Bennett counts, about whom I think the world.) I could run through a scoundrels list of them—all those whom I don’t like viscerally— but all you have to do is go through my social media posts, and you’ll see that I am not shy when it comes to challenging them, even the President when I thought he was wrong. I might even call someone a name, but not a foul name. During his administration, I opined that President Obama was both feckless and mendacious, simply because he was: “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” Right. Uh Huh. I think the worst I have ever done is to call someone a weasel. When you double cross your faithful voters, you—in my book—are a weasel. In fact, in the modern dictionary under politician, I think they should have the words “see weasel.”

As to foul language, I detest it. People—my friends included use the F-word as if it were some sort of comma. We, as a culture are saturated in verbal filth—drowning. I cannot stand women who swear, especially in public. Many years ago—I think it was my 40th birthday party—a friend of mine and his wife were walking through my house and she kept swearing, ultimately ending with, “Your house is so f**king beautiful!” I finally asked her to tone her language down as we were in the house. She was a bit taken aback at my request, and her husband who was not known for his angel’s tongue explained to her that she needed to accede to my wish. Her crude language was jarring me, and I was sure that my other guests would neither approve nor appreciate her crudity. Not that I am a prude by any means; I can swear like the sailor that I am, especially if something goes suddenly awry. Having said that, how cheap and tawdry a woman sounds who swears, don’t you agree? Men swear. Why would woman want to appropriate such a base heretofore primarily male characteristic?

So this Samantha Bee…Who is she? I had to google her to find out. I had never heard of her, but modern comedy with its cretin’s parade of insults, attacks—mostly upon conservatives— and outright vulgarities, has yet to catch my ear. As I age, my ear increasingly seeks peace, respite from this chaotic world. The last comic whom I found remotely funny, I used to laugh at Jay Leno from time to time—awkward in his delivery though he could be—but he was never disgusting nor vulgar. I found out that Samantha Bee’s ratings have dropped precipitously, down almost 30% year over year. (Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh.) Wonder why? Maybe people are just plain bored. After all, if everyone swears, you cannot be the modern day Lenny Bruce.

Guess Samantha Bee wanted to draw attention to herself to give herself a boost. Well, in the grand scheme of things as far as fame is concerned, it worked for a relative second. Now, I am quite certain, unless she joins a convent, I will have no interest in meeting Samantha Bee or listening to anything she says. None. I am not listening. To her, I am deaf. Like most who struggle on the false pedestal of quotidian relevance, Samantha Bee has nothing to say worthwhile, if she ever had. One simply doesn’t talk like that in public. If she wants to improve her standing, doesn’t she volunteer to pack care packages for the military or read to children in the hospital? Why not buck the boring nasty remark trend set by your fellow Hollywood elites?

While I was writing this blog post, Samantha Bee has since apologized. Great. It’s a start. I guess a metaphorical elder with some refined decorous sense pointed out that when you are fighting an uphill battle, you save your breath for the climb; you do not hurl invectives into the wind. You enlist the support of as many friends and people of good character as you can. Guess Samantha Bee forgot the old adage: One’s words should be as sweet and as pleasant as possible, in case one ever has to eat them. Tell me, Miss Bee, how do they taste? Bitter? A bit sour?

If Samantha Bee doesn’t like President Trumps’s immigration policies, perhaps she ought to write the president. Wonder if she’s done that? Wonder if she has the slightest clue what his immigration policies are designed to do. Wonder if she’s pro-American? My guess is that Samantha Bee has 24-7, 365 security, lives in the equivalent of a gated community and rarely ever interacts with the residue of a sanctuary city policy. My guess is that she, like so many in Hollywood, is simply parroting the anti-Trump line. I for one am deaf to that line.

I think it must be my age. Anyone else wish we could reintroduce modesty into our culture?

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Photo credit: Everett Art/Shutterstock

I am old enough to have been raised with manners and decorum, raised to think that a woman is precious. I think we should all make a concerted effort to return to that golden standard.

(Photo credit at top of page, Wooden fence: liznel/Shutterstock)

Footfalls

“Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

About the brokerage business my uncle Mike, who was an account executive for a big brokerage house, once opined:  “When you’re done….[All you have are] footprints in the sand.”  I guess we could all say that about our lives, most of us, anyway.  Ultimately, what we have done will be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, or won’t it? 

I am very lucky to live by the sea and to belong to a club where one can swim and pitch an umbrella at the beach for the day. On gorgeous sunny days, such as this past Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the view was quite spectacular–one of wispy cirrus clouds, motionless against a bright blue backdrop, as if they were brushed in by a great master, along with blue green waves rolling gently onto a soft, white sandy shore. As I stare out at the serene view on days like this, I count my multitude of blessings, perhaps just a bit more than usual. So grateful to God am I for directing me here and so very grateful for the way He has arranged the day. A small thing, this lovely isle of serenity. 

Though frightfully hot in the midday sun, I resolved–and yes, that is the right word–to walk down to the water from the upper decks of the club. You see–I had had shoulder surgery on my left shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff and exercise in any form is literally the order of the day.  Huffing and puffing as a went, I cheerfully greeted many a mother and child, many a lone boardwalk stroller. (I just have to get back into shape.) Passing the two young beach chair minders, definitely no more than 21, I joked with them about the tough job they had, “Beautiful day, beautiful women,” and perhaps “A few beers tonight after work to help you deal with the stress.” What a struggle! How I remember and long for those halcyon days….Thin as a rail, fit and sailing every chance I got.  No beer of course, not a drop! 😉 I do, however, remember this jingle: “Surprise people, serve Michelob®.”

Having painted you a picture of this past Saturday’s walk, I would like to mention one small detail, one small detail which has irritated me ever since I first started noticing it–much like the imprint of a small pebble in one’s sneaker on a long beach walk. Much like the litter left on some of the beaches around our great country at the end of a fine summer’s day, I think it says much about the way we think of or don’t think of our fellow travelers. I guess I notice this behavior because there have been times when I have walked down to the water using a cane or a walking stick in my left hand, times when, were I to trip over carelessly placed flip-flops, sneakers or shoes, I might have fallen and injured my shoulder or worse.

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Photo credit: Narin Nonthamand/Shutterstock

Imagine two dozen or more haphazardly strewn about….

 Saturday morning or afternoon Memorial Day weekend, the official or unofficial start of the summer season, or on any Saturday, Sunday, or even weekday during the summer one is apt to find at least a score or more of flip-flops haphazardly discarded at what people naturally think is the end of the walk.  I’m guessing here: it might be an extra five or 10 feet, but hey, I like to walk until the end in more ways than one.  Besides there is a vertical stop erected there to keep walkers from walking off the end of the walk, and it’s a great place to rest and stretch, or pray, activities in which I always engage before continuing on or returning to the house. 

Lest I seem like a curmudgeon, I can imagine the thrill of the children–many of whom are seeing the beach and the ocean for the first time that season, or for the first time ever. As boy eagerly anticipating the first trip to Point O’Woods in the early spring, I felt similar emotions upon first smelling the salt air, and once we arrived, first spying the beach over the top of the stile. I can imagine the parents trying vainly to restrain their children somewhat while they survey the sand for space, for hazards such rip currents or for obstacles such as flotsam and jetsam.   Everyone it seems, regardless of age, removes his or her flip-flops, sneakers or shoes–hurriedly sweeping them out of the way–before hitting the beach, the younger ones leaping joyously onto the sand. I understand; I really do. When I was a young boy, just for fun from time to time, I merrily jumped into it off the stile about four steps up. 

I wish–perhaps I am a curmudgeon–that when people who frequent the beach in front of the club to which I belong leave their footwear on the boardwalk that they would line it up along the edge on one side or the other. Is it folly to suggest that one ought to think that one is not alone? I have even suggested that the club paint pairs of shoe outlines–perhaps in bright colors along the edges to serve as a guide. I have asked but to no avail.  Doing so would eliminate a tripping hazard and enable the full use of the boardwalk.  Speaking of those boardwalks….

As a full time resident, over the course of the past eight years, I think I’ve seen at least five boardwalks wash out, shortened by the ever shoreward march of the waves during a hard blow from the southwest. As I tell strangers, it’s not the hurricanes that do the most damage, but the steady, relentless pounding of the winds and the waves from the southwest or from the northeast. Depending on the prevailing winds that season, the season being the whole year, you get the building or erosion of the beach on one side or the other of the point that forms Cape Fear. Thankfully, though shorter every year, these boardwalks are replaced in time for each season with great thought and care as to where they should run, so as to not disturb the nesting least terns.  As a thoughtful person (I pride myself as such), maybe I should declare myself an endangered species? Before you say I am making fun of these creatures, I love these little birds and have endorsed their protection as a life member of the Nature Conservancy.

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Photo credit: Ray Hennessy/Shutterstock

So there you have it: my inconsequential vignette about Memorial Day. Where one places one’s flip-flops on the boardwalk assuredly won’t change the course of human history, but it might change mine–or someone else’s– if I were to fall as a result of tripping over one haphazardly placed pair or a pile of them and re-injure my left shoulder.  “What a trivial complaint!” I am sure you are saying, but I think, as I run through my childhood memories, that I don’t remember the routine thoughtlessness of people when it came to little things like leaving flip-flops and other tripping hazards in another’s path.  Should I then be surprised if legions of Americans don’t take time to reflect upon the true meaning of the Memorial Day? 

Sandman

(Photo credit at top of page-Footprints: Ksenia Lev/Shutterstock)