A Short Story Made Long

This is a short story which I will make long. Peggy and I have been theater goers ever since we married. For three years we subscribed to Chicago Shakespeare Theater. We looked forward to going, but always came home wondering what-the-heck is was all about. I was lucky if I understood fifty percent of what the actors said. Peg felt the same. In a cock-eyed way we enjoyed Shakespeare, maybe because it was a night out in the big town. Then, I learned that my friend Sherman and his wife Harriet were avid Steppenwolf Theater fans. My only association with Steppenwolf  came when I recognized the theater while driving by. I had heard the name many times, and my ears stood up when I drove past the building.

We subscribed to Steppenwolf in 2007 for the same nights as Harriet and Sherman. We have been members ever since. One of the first plays we attended is “Superior Donuts.” Sherman could not laud playwright Tracy Letts enough for his writing ability, and raved about a play they saw during the last season called “August: Osage County” also by Tracy Letts.

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All along, I kept telling myself that I have to see this play. From Steppenwolf the play went to Broadway lasting two years and receiving rave reviews. Then, Tracy Letts won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Osage.”  All the while, Peg and I have watched five plays a year since then, and many of them featured Tracy Letts as actor. He is a fine performer. Our record of coming home not understanding what went on has improved and we now understand all the dialog.

This week, I accomplished the goal to see “August: Osage County.” Peg and I opened our winter movie season by seeing this film. The story has strong characters played by fine actors, two of which you will recognize immediately, Meryl Streep, and Julia Roberts.

I don’t know what it is about playwrights they always seem to write their best stories about dysfunctional families. I admit, Osage is about one really screwed up family. The story is riveting, as screwed up as the people are. This was one film that went by fast, and My old man bladder held out for the distance. There was no way I would  interrupt seeing one minute of this performance.

There is one thing left for this story, an Oscar. The film did not receive a nomination, but Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts have both been nominated, I agree that both should win.

A truly amazing person

This man did what I have contemplated many times, i.e. chuck all the medications and take what comes while trying to make a difference.

Just Cruisin 2

Sometimes we hear a tale that warms our
heart, makes our eyes leak, and restores
our faith in people.

What would you do after doctors tell
you to get your affairs in order, give your
soul to Jesus, and kiss your butt goodbye?

Scream, throw a pity party, pray?

andy

After his ninth heart attack, Scottish
born Andy Mackie stopped taking his meds
and started making plans while his pastor
was arranging his memorial service.

He took the $600 he spent for monthly
medication and bought 300 harmonicas.

He then took the harmonicas, gave them to
school kids, and taught them how to play
them.

He soon became known as the Harmonica Man.

He was always in pain but said he didn’t
think about how he felt when he was with
the kids.

In the ensuing 13 years he handed out
20,000 harmonicas and 5,000 of his handmade
strum sticks.

He…

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A Blatant Disregard for the Law

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Senator Ted Cruz from Texas wrote an insightful article for the Wall Street Journal where he exposes President Obama’s reckless disregard for the law. It is my opinion that the President should face Impeachment for his offenses to disregard his oath of office to uphold the law of the land and to protect the Constitution.

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Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat. On Monday, Mr. Obama acted unilaterally to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contracts, the first of many executive actions the White House promised would be a theme of his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

The president’s taste for unilateral action to circumvent Congress should concern every citizen, regardless of party or ideology. The great 18th-century political philosopher Montesquieu observed: “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates.” America’s Founding Fathers took this warning to heart, and we should too.

Rule of law doesn’t simply mean that society has laws; dictatorships are often characterized by an abundance of laws. Rather, rule of law means that we are a nation ruled by laws, not men. That no one—and especially not the president—is above the law. For that reason, the U.S. Constitution imposes on every president the express duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Yet rather than honor this duty, President Obama has openly defied it by repeatedly suspending, delaying and waiving portions of the laws he is charged to enforce. When Mr. Obama disagreed with federal immigration laws, he instructed the Justice Department to cease enforcing the laws. He did the same thing with federal welfare law, drug laws and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

On many of those policy issues, reasonable minds can disagree. Mr. Obama may be right that some of those laws should be changed. But the typical way to voice that policy disagreement, for the preceding 43 presidents, has been to work with Congress to change the law. If the president cannot persuade Congress, then the next step is to take the case to the American people. As President Reagan put it: “If you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat” of electoral accountability.

President Obama has a different approach. As he said recently, describing his executive powers: “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.” Under the Constitution, that is not the way federal law is supposed to work.

The Obama administration has been so brazen in its attempts to expand federal power that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to expand federal power nine times since January 2012.

There is no example of lawlessness more egregious than the enforcement—or nonenforcement—of the president’s signature policy, the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama has repeatedly declared that “it’s the law of the land.” Yet he has repeatedly violated ObamaCare’s statutory text.

The law says that businesses with 50 or more full-time employees will face the employer mandate on Jan. 1, 2014. President Obama changed that, granting a one-year waiver to employers. How did he do so? Not by going to Congress to change the text of the law, but through a blog post by an assistant secretary at Treasury announcing the change.

The law says that only Americans who have access to state-run exchanges will be subject to employer penalties and may obtain ObamaCare premium subsidies. This was done to entice the states to create exchanges. But, when 34 states decided not to establish state-run exchanges, the Obama administration announced that the statutory words “established by State” would also mean “established by the federal government.”

The law says that members of Congress and their staffs’ health coverage must be an ObamaCare exchange plan, which would prevent them from receiving their current federal-employee health subsidies, just like millions of Americans who can’t receive such benefits. At the behest of Senate Democrats, the Obama administration instead granted a special exemption (deeming “individual” plans to be “group” plans) to members of Congress and their staffs so they could keep their pre-existing health subsidies.

Most strikingly, when over five million Americans found their health insurance plans canceled because ObamaCare made their plans illegal—despite the president’s promise “if you like your plan, you can keep it”—President Obama simply held a news conference where he told private insurance companies to disobey the law and issue plans that ObamaCare regulated out of existence.

In other words, rather than go to Congress and try to provide relief to the millions who are hurting because of the “train wreck” of ObamaCare (as one Senate Democrat put it), the president instructed private companies to violate the law and said he would in effect give them a get-out-of-jail-free card—for one year, and one year only. Moreover, in a move reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s looking-glass world, President Obama simultaneously issued a veto threat if Congress passed legislation doing what he was then ordering.

In the more than two centuries of our nation’s history, there is simply no precedent for the White House wantonly ignoring federal law and asking private companies to do the same. As my colleague Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa asked, “This was the law. How can they change the law?”

Similarly, 11 state attorneys general recently wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying that the continuing changes to ObamaCare are “flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.” The attorneys general correctly observed that “the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action.”

In the past, when Republican presidents abused their power, many Republicans—and the press—rightly called them to account. Today many in Congress—and the press—have chosen to give President Obama a pass on his pattern of lawlessness, perhaps letting partisan loyalty to the man supersede their fidelity to the law.

But this should not be a partisan issue. In time, the country will have another president from another party. For all those who are silent now: What would they think of a Republican president who announced that he was going to ignore the law, or unilaterally change the law? Imagine a future president setting aside environmental laws, or tax laws, or labor laws, or tort laws with which he or she disagreed.

That would be wrong—and it is the Obama precedent that is opening the door for future lawlessness. As Montesquieu knew, an imperial presidency threatens the liberty of every citizen. Because when a president can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, he is no longer a president.

 

How to Create a Social State

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In light of tonight’s broadcast of the State of the Union BS session I decided to re-publish the real state of the union. Here is an excerpt from Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. I am amazed at how close it reads to today’s headlines.  Thanks Mike for sending this.

Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) was an American community organizer and writer.  He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing.  He authored the book, “Rules for Radicals”.

In his book, he details the eight 8 levels of control that must be obtained in order to create a social state.

The first is the most important.

1)  Healthcare: Control healthcare and you control the  people.

2)  Poverty: Increase the Poverty level as high as possible.  Poor people are easier to control, and will not fight back as long as you are providing everything they require to live.

3)  Debt: Increase the debt to an unsustainable level. In this way, taxes must increase, and this will produce more poverty.

4)  Gun Control: Remove the ability for citizens to defend themselves from the Government.  In that way you are able to create a police state.

5)  Welfare: Take control of every aspect of their lives (Food, Housing, and Income).

6)  Education: Take control of what children read and to what they are taught in school.

7)  Religion: Remove the belief in the God from the Government and schools.

8)  Class Warfare: Divide the people into the wealthy and the poor.  This will cause more discontent, and it will be easier to tax the wealthy with the support of the poor.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The Obama presidency was not an accident.  It was carefully planned.

Chasing Heat

I’m on the dark side again as I await the cable company to hook me up. Peg and I sit in the Valley of the Sun enjoying the sunshine . By tomorrow we will again come out of the darkness into the light. For once I don’t feel guilty about vacating the snow and cold. My aged body loves the warmth and despises the frigid arctic cold produced by aggressive usage of fossil fuels. Even the Death Star runs better in the warmth.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll make more sense when I’m using a full size key board and not this smart phone mini.

Who Do I Believe?

If one is to believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment is not a problem. I reviewed the BLS website pages to decide for myself what to believe. I couldn’t discern what is happening. There are no clear figures to tell me exactly what is going on. What I do know is what I see going on around me, many people I know cannot find a job to replace the one they lost.

Recently, I had occasion to visit the Will County Land Use Bureau to get a permit to put a new roof on a house. I asked the permit man if  he has seen an increase in permit requests. He had time to talk to me because I was his only customer. The answer is NO. When I visit a business I ask how their business is doing. Many are honest enough to tell me how far down they are from 2009. Recently, I ran into a former colleague who is still working at my former place of employment. I know their business dropped by forty percent when the recession hit. He told me they were nearly back to where they were five years ago, that is a good thing. Currently I am traveling across country. I stay in a chain of hotels that I am comfortable with, and they give a breakfast as a draw. In past years, cars, trucks, and trailers crowded the hotel parking lot and breakfast was standing room only. Last night I parked right next to the lobby door. This morning, I had a premium table right in front of the TV.  The fact remains that businesses doing poorly outnumber those that are doing well. My survey is anecdotal and not scientific, but it is a seat-of-the-pants look at the business around the country.

Today, I spent time reading blogs that I follow. One of them is “Rat Nation.” I lifted a book review from the blog which I have included below. There are no words to describe this book titled “Everything Obama Knows About Creating Jobs.”

Definition of ‘Unemployment Rate’

The percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment and willing to work.

The Dark Side of the Moon

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When the space program was in its infancy a new term came into existence “the dark side of the moon.” The term applied to the time the astronauts in orbit around the moon for the very first time lost all contact with planet Earth. The time was scary. No one knew what had happened. The loss of communication had not been expected. Yet, when analyzed, it became obvious that radio signals from the capsule when it was behind the moon, i.e. the moon was between the capsule and Earth, could not wrap around the moon toward earth. The tension at Mission Control could be felt around the world. The loss lasted several minutes, and a cheer went out after the capsule again came around into the signal area.

I am currently traveling and I feel like I have been on the dark side of the moon with my posts. At other times, I blogged daily from different parts of the USA. This time I have not had the opportunity to do so.

Today, I drove four hundred and eighty miles from one city to another.  The first half, or two hundred and forty miles, took five and a half hours for a grand spanking 43.6 mph average. The gas consumption measured 27.8 mpg. The ride was scenic and through rural areas. We experienced one incident which tested my mettle. I stopped to gas up, and stopped in front of a gas pump. I pushed the button to pop open the lid for the gas fill tube. It did not open. I kept pushing the button on the dash, nothing happened. I stepped out and used the key fob to pry at the edge of the door, nothing happened. I asked Peg to sit in the driver’s seat to push the button while I banged and pried at the door, nothing happened. Finally, I told myself to use some force to get the darn thing open. I figured the worst would be a broken or  bent door. Peg held the button down and I levered the door with the key fob enough to get my fingers into the opening and yanked for all I was worth. The door opened. I gassed up and left the door open for the rest of the trip.

The second two hundred and forty miles were more scenic  and covered wide open spaces with very large skies, it took three hours for an 80 mph average, and a gas usage of 25.1 mpg.  In both halves I never exceeded the speed limit. If you knew where I was you would understand completely why there is such a difference. I enjoyed both halves of the course, but must admit the second half was a white knuckle ride. A lapse of a single second from the road found me correcting the wheel. At high speeds it is easy to wander from side to side very quickly. I also experienced the sensation of relative speed. When approaching a vehicle from far behind my speed seemed normal, however, when coming up behind the same vehicle from within thirty-car lengths the distance between us closed at the speed of light. In one instance I came upon a semi-truck and signaled to change lanes for a pass. The truck pulled into the passing lane at the same instant. I found myself standing on the brakes to avoid running into him.

Tomorrow morning we will cover three hundred miles at the same speed limit, I look forward to the thrill.

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