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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Panama Canal Cruise — September 30, 2010 – Day Seven

Another at sea day as we cruise towards Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. This will be my fourth time in beautiful Costa Rice. The other three times I was there on a working assignment for the U.S. Trade and Development agency doing airport surveys.

Nothing much to do except recuperate from yesterday’s white water rafting experience. I finally got our shoes dry by enlisting the aid of the in-room hair dryer. It looks like the shoes will be as good as new.

We did not do to well at the trivia game, but we are still in second place. Once again we missed a few of those bang your forehead with the palm of your hand questions. Who hosted the Academy Awards show eight and eighteen times? We got Billy Crystal, but missed Bob Hope. Yes, I know you knew the answer. Can you name the 18 rooms in the old and new versions of the game of Clue? What are the seven wonders of the modern world? These are a few of the questions we missed. What was Charlie Chaplin’s first talking picture? (I knew) What are the most common elements in the universe? Oh well better luck at the next game.

Kathy and I played another trivia game with two ladies we met in the Schooner Bar. This game was “Name That Tune – Big Band Era”. I thought we could do fairly well on this one. Again we blew an easy one that would have given us a win. Instead of writing down Sing, Sing, Sing for the big Gene Kruppa hit we wrote Swing, Swing, Swing. Yet another loss by missing and easy question.

You may think all we do on these cruises is play trivia. No, that’s not all we do. We also eat, sleep, go to the pool and wander the ship making friends. Trivia is just a pastime where we can play a game as a family and then argue with each other why they didn’t use the answer someone proposed. It makes for good fun.

There’s not much to Blog about today and no new photos to share. Tomorrow will be a good day with photos and text. I will tell you all you wanted to know about coffee when we return from or visit to the coffee plantation.

Click here to view an updated version of my Panama Canal Gallery.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Panama Canal Cruise — September 29, 2010 – Day Six

Day six began with our arrival in Huatulco (pronounced wah-tool-co by the natives) in the Mexican state of Oaxaca (pronounced wah hah ka). Why they don’t spell these names like they are pronounced is a mystery to me.

Here is what the guide book says; ”Once a haven for pirates and weary sailors traveling from the Far East, today Huatulco is a relatively undiscovered port of call. Located on the Pacific Coast in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, it's one of the first destinations in the western hemisphere to focus on eco-tourism and the protection of natural resources. And with 22 miles of jagged coastline, pristine beaches and spectacular crystal-clear waters – it's easy to see why.”

Most of this is true. Huatulco was begun about twenty years ago when the Mexican government invested money to build a transportation infrastructure and a marina. The tourism is mainly from the interior of Mexico, mainly Mexico City. Only about 40 cruise ships stop here each year. There used to be over 60 when Princes Cruises would stop her on a regular basis, but they reduced their stops to six per year last year.

We awoke around 0630 to get ready for our big adventure of the Copalita River Float. We wanted to get some breakfast this morning so we would have some energy to paddle the rafts. What we did not want was the rain that was pouring down. It would come in bursts, first a drizzle and then a downpour. This did not look good.

By the time we boarded our vans to go to the river it was really raining hard and we were getting very depressed. We had been told to wear a bathing suit and sport shoes as we would get wet from the river, not from the rain. By the time we reached the river the rain had stopped, what good luck.

The Copalita River Float is supposed to be a gentle float of about a hour down the Copalita River. Here is what the brochure had to say about this trip. “Experience the class 1 and 2 waters of the Copalita River surrounded by tropical flora and fauna. Your tour beings at the pier as you board an all terrain vehicle for a 30-minute drive to the river. On arrival you'll receive a safety briefing and paddle demonstration by your guide, issued safety gear and receive an overview of what you are about to experience. As you float leisurely downstream for approximately 60-90 minutes, you'll experience the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape before arriving at a sandbank near the rivers estuary. It’s time to reboard your all terrain vehicle for the drive back to the ship. Safety helmets, life jackets and bottled water are provided. It is recommend that guests wear swim attire, shorts, t-shirt, sport shoes and if so desired a change of clothes and shoes. It is also recommended that guests wear sunscreen and bring insect repellant.”

Here is what really happened. We boarded our Chevy van at the pier and after a 25 minute drive we reached the staging area for the river float. One look at the river told us we were in for a bit of a problem. Due to unusually heavy rains the river was running high and fast. The river float was going to turn into a white water rafting experience.

After being fitted with life vests and given paddling and safety instructions we boarded our rubber rafts. There were six people plus the guide in each raft and we all had to paddle per instructions from the guide — “forward” “back” and “stop” were the main commands.

The first thing I experienced was that due to a leaky floor in the raft my new, special walking shoes were soaking wet and so was my t-shirt from the splashing. This was not going to that much fun. Also, I had to leave my camera in the van so there would be no bird photos on this adventure. Actually I saw only a few birds along the way so there was no real loss here.

Gwen and I were seated in the front with Lisa and Kathy behind us and two ladies behind them. Arturo was the steersman at the rear. We were experiencing some bouncing and spinning and Arturo was yelling “forward”, “stop” and “back” when we head a thump and a scream. Kathy and the lady behind her had fallen overboard into the swift running river. Kathy managed to hang on to the boat, but the other lady was drifting away pretty quickly. Fortunately she was doing as instructed and laying on her back with her feet up and floating along with the current.

Within seconds the guides from the other rafts were in the water recovering the drifting lady while Gwen and I hung on to Kathy. With help from Arturo and another guide we were able to pull her safely into the boat and resume our white water river float. All we needed was Meryl Strep and Kevin Bacon to complete the scene. Kathy was fine, albeit a bit embarrassed. The guides were a bit shaken and concerned that she and the other lady were okay. It is fortunate that the river was not too deep and the guides were able to stand on the bottom while they were assisting us.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful, just more forward, stop and back. In took about 45 minutes to reach the sand bar at the mouth of the river where the Pacific Ocean’s surf was pounding up the mouth of the river. We beached the rafts on the sand and jumped out. Of course I slipped and fell out into the black sand. This is what I hate going to the beach.

What they didn’t tell us in the brochure was that we would have to trek through the jungle to get back to the vans. When I say jungle, I mean jungle like Guadalcanal. They call this a deciduous jungle, which means it loses its leaves in the winter. Obviously winter was not here yet as there were plenty of leaves. They should have furnished us with machetes so we could hack our way back. Finally we reached a paved path and walked another mile to the awaiting vans.

We were soaked, dirty, sweaty and tired, but it will be an adventure we will talk about for years. Everyone Kathy relates the story of river float to everyone she meets now. It’s; “Oh, we went on the river float and, by the way I fell into the river.”

We returned to the ship and went straight to our cabin where we showered, changed and went to lunch. We put our clothes in a laundry bag and gave them to the cabin steward for the laundry. They were filthy and soaking wet.

On our way back to the ship I heard about 30 seconds of automatic gunfire in he hills behind Huatulco. I think it was a military exercise, but I could be wrong.The gunfire was quite intense for the time it went on and consisted of M-16 and automatic shotgun fire. There were armed army and navy personal all over the pier and dock area. Someone on the ship told me they had seen this area included in a map of the drug cartel regions. Glad to be leaving Mexico.

We got underway again at 1630 hours on our way to Costa Rica and an adventure at a coffee plantation. I don't think thsi will be too dangerous.

Click here to view an updated version of my Panama Canal Gallery.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Panama Canal Cruise — September 28, 2010 – Day Five

Day five began with a bang. We got up at 0630 hours to get ready for our Acapulco shore excursion, get breakfast and meet at the bus assembly are at 0830. We spent an hour looking for Kathy’s passport. We searched everywhere and could not find it. Things were looking black. But because it was Kathy’s birthday we finally found the missing passport in the rear compartment of her wallet. We made the bus in time for the tour of the city and the see the famous cliff divers of Acapulco.

The city tour was average and the guide was average, All he kept saying was to be happy. It was hard being happy with his droning monotone voice. He gave us a lot of information about real estate in Acapulco and how the rich and not so famous are buying/building 10-15 million dollar homes and resorts on the outskirts of town, where there were once marshes, farms and mango groves.

We took a tour of this area and saw the big new hotels and resorts where a weekend could run upwards of $5,000. The average Mexican laborer earns about $25/day for 8 hours work (about 300 pesos). We passed groups of day labors waiting to get picked up for work — lust like Home Depot. There is a lot of wealth to be seen in Acapulco, but also a great deal a land of contrasts.

The old Acapulco of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s is no more. Most of those hotels are gone or turned into low budget hotels. All the upscale neighborhoods are on the outskirts of the original town of Acapulco. Even the Mirador Hotel where the divers perform looks run down and not well visited, except for the buses bringing the tourists for their hour stay to watch the divers, but a drink and hopefully a few souvenirs from the gift shops.

The tour guide told us that at its height a few years ago Acapulco was getting about 150 cruise ships each year. It is now down to 95. Compare that to Cozumel with its 1,500 cruise ship stops each year and you can see what has happened to the once famous Acapulco.

Everywhere you looked or stopped there were armed security guards. Banks, stores, gated complexes, hotels, shops — everywhere. We even saw a police pickup truck with two policemen in the rear manning a 30 cal machine gun. Mexico has a serious drug related crime problem. I did not ask the tour guide about this, I didn’t need to — it’s known all over the world. 28,000 murders is tough to hide. Fortunately we did not see any problems. The only glitch we had is we had to change buses when the belt on the AC unit of our bus blew and the AC went out. It sounded like a gunshot and I thought we might have some excitement for me to photograph. It took about 15 minutes for the replacement bus to arrive and we were on our way in air cooled comfort.

We arrived at the Mirador Hotel, home to the cliff diver show, about 30 minutes before the show, just in time to do some shopping. This big ticket items in Mexico are silver and gemstones. However, the Chinese are beginning to undercut the locals with silver jewelry. I suppose the Mexican government will have to impose some restrictions.
The cliff diving lasts about 30 minutes and there are seven divers. The guests are seated on various levels of the hotel’s patio dining area. When you enter you’re given a choice of drink from a piná collata to a bottle of water. I choose the water. Once you make your way to he terrace level that will give you the best available view you can sit at a table and view the show. I choose the best vantage point to shot photos.

There are seven divers in the show, They swim over to the base of the cliffs and then climb the steep cliffs to the top, about 130-150 feet, where there is a little shrine. As the divers get ready to jump off they go over to the shrine and make devotion before diving.

They perch on the edge of the cliff, wave at the people and then jump. There was one double tandem dive and all of the divers do some sort of diving maneuver, such as a jackknife or back flip, The last diver goes to the very top of the cliff for his dive and leaps the 22 feet needed to clear the rocks. It’s quite spectacular and well worth the time and money to see.

The diving dates back to the 1930s when the Mirador hotel needed a promotion to increase business. The divers were it. There are 55 living divers, with 25 being active today. The retired divers become consultants to film companies and other attractions where diving is used. They travel the globe sharing their knowledge and experience. The greatest danger to the divers is blindness. As the hit the water at a speed of 50 mph there is tremendous pressure put on the retina and will cause blindness in time, this why the professional life of a cliff diver is seven years. When you look at the photos of the divers, in the gallery, note that I took a burst of sequence shots at 6 frames per second with a 300mm lens so you could see a complete dive.

Once the show was over we made our way through the gaggle of locals selling their wares, such as blankets, pottery and other useless trinkets to fill your suitcase with to the bus. As usual we had to wait on one “special” couple while they continued to shop or something. There is always one couple that doesn’t have to be on time, they are special people. You could tell this one, she had on the $200 dollar fashion sunglasses and $400 fashion purse.

When we got back to the ship we were famished due to missing breakfast. A quick trip to the Windjammer cured that. A nap was in order after lunch. Now I have to get ready for diner where we are having something special to celebrate Kathy’s birthday.

Click here to view an updated version of my Panama Canal Gallery.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Panama Canal Cruise — September 27, 2010 – Day Four

Once we are underway heading southeasterly towards Acapulco and our shore excursion to see the cliff divers. Here is what we will be doing: "This leisurely sightseeing tour will show you the highlights of Acapulco, and you'll see the death-defying feats of Acapulco's high cliff divers." The first time I saw photos of these divers was on a Sawyers 3-D View Master. Ever since that day I have wanted to see these divers. I hope I am not disappointed. I will let you know tomorrow.

I would say that well over half of the women and men are medically obese and many are handicapped in some way. I mean walking with canes, walkers and using those electric scooters. This goes for all nationalities, not just Americans. Many of the women need to seriously consider spending more on the bras as the ones they are wearing do not provide much support. Perhaps that’s the European look. As for the men, most are walking with pronounced limps or some form of assistance. 
As this is an at sea day we will continue our progressive trivia and see if we ca maintain our lead. Also, we will need to decide on an alternative shore excursion for Huatulco.
The weather seems to be improving with slightly lower temperatures and less humidity. We are getting some puffy cumulus clouds off to the west, which may indicate we are in for a few showers during the afternoon.

We didn’t do as well at trivia this afternoon and our low score combined with yesterday’s score dropped us to second place by two points. We will have to get much better.

Kathy won some more money in the Casino today. She is up to around $100 plus her initial Bingo winnings. If she keeps it up we will have a nice down payment on our next cruise — to New Zealand.

I’m getting a bit bored with all this relaxation. It’s time to get moving and seeing some of the sights we were looking forward to. I will be glad to get off the ship tomorrow and see something besides food.

In talking with our waiter at dinner we were told that there were several retired couples on board that had been with the ship for five months. It seems they are using the Radiance as an assisted living facility — no kidding. One couple is getting around with one of those electric scooters. She told us that this couple had been on another ship prior to the Radiance and took a two month hiatus from cruising prior to joining the Radiance. Just imagine going up and down the coast of Alaska several times. How many times can you see Sitka?

Well it’s off to the Hollywood Odyssey and then to bed. I have to be up at 0630 hours tomorrow for breakfast and then assembly for our shore excursion to Acapulco.
Click Here to view an updated version of my Panama Canal Gallery.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Panama Canal Cruise — September 26, 2010 – Day Three

After a good night’s sleep I awoke around 7:00 a.m. as we were approaching Cabo San Lucas. When I went out to the balcony the weather was much warmer and a lot more humid. It was 91 degrees with 90% humidity, not a very good place to do much walking.

Cabo San Lucas’ shoreline is lined with condos and apartments. As there is no dock the ship dropped anchor about a quarter mile from shore and the passengers who were going into Cabo had to so via tender.

There were people plying the shore in jet skies and parasailing. By the looks of the crowd in the Windjammer quite a few passengers opted for a shore excursion to Cabo, we did not.

After a late breakfast we went to the pool for a few hours. The one thing I do not like with the pool is that it is salt water, egh! They say you have more buoyancy in salt water, but I don’t like to get it in my eyes. And, yes I left my water goggles at home.

I walked the red mile and took a few photos of shipboard scenes and the coast at Cabo San Lucas. The red mile is a colored walkway on deck 12 and if you make 6 circuits you have walked a mile. I made three.

The rest of the day was a lazy lay about day where I did not do much. I did, however, watch the Rams beat the Redskins on the internet. That was quite a surprise. There was Sunday Night Football via ESPN satellite and saw a little of the Jets-Dolphins game.Other than that we did not do much.

Tomorrow is another at sea day and then we get serious with the shore excursions beginning with the cliff divers at Acapulco. That is something I am looking forward to seeking. That’s why I carted my 300mm lens with me.

Click here to view an updated version of my Panama Canal Gallery.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Royal Caribbean Panama Canal Cruise Adventure - September 25, 2010 – Day Two

After a fairly good night’s sleep we arose to what we thought was 0730, but in fact was 0830 as we moved into the Mountain Time Zone during the night. Also we forgot to put out the breakfast menu so we did not have breakfast in the room. So it was off to the Windjammer once again.

There was a great selection of items for breakfast ranging from tradition bacon, eggs and hash browns to boutique omelets and fruit bowls, something for everyone. Being a traditional person I choose sausage, eggs and hash browns. Too much food, too much cholesterol. I will have to cut back to salads and fruit.

We sat with an English couple from San Diego and had a very nice conversation. They had been on many cruises and were loyal to RCCL. It’s odd how the works out. It’s like airline mileage. If you stick with one carrier you will accumulate points or miles faster and get something for your loyalty. If you bounce around from carrier to carrier you really get nothing. Most of the cruise lines begin giving away some pretty good discounts and special services when you get up to three or more cruises.

Today was an “at sea day”. This means you are between ports of call and the ship is at sea and it’s an opportunity to spend your money shopping on board or at the spa. Most people use these days for their spa treatments like facials, messages, pedicures and the likes.

Since this was a foggy day at sea and I did not have a spa appointment I wandered the ship taking photos. I tried to cover all of the public rooms but there are a few I still need to get to. The captain explained that the fog was caused by the sea being the same temperature (61 degrees) and that it would dissipate as we neared Cabo San Lucas, our first port of call, where the expected temperature would be 91 degrees. He also told us we were making 21 knots (24 miles) per hour over 4,000 feet of water. This is an example of the little announcements we get from the bridge.

Without too much to do I joined the girls in the Schooner Bar for the progressive trivia game. The progressive trivia is played on “at sea” days and is just what it says — a progressive game of international trivia wher each day there is a winner, but the points are totaled at the end of the cruise to see who the grand champion is. The name of our team is the “Kruzers” and we won today’s game. Let’s see how we will do for the remainder of the cruise, the competition is pretty tough, especially the Aussies.

After trivia we had some lunch and then I went back to the cabin to watch some football — yes football, how about that — on the TV. I hope the NFL will be on tomorrow as I am not taking any shore excursions to Cabo San Lucas — been there and once is enough for me. Besides they are predicting 91 degrees with showers and high humidity — no thanks.

Tonight we will try our first meal in the dining room at our window seat. It’s a “formal” night, but I am not a formal person so I will go with a white polo under my black jacket and see what happens. Right now I have to stop and see if I can get a good shot of the sunset.

We finally made it to the dining room and our window seat where we met Victor and Vinnie, our waiter and assistant waiter. The diner was good, the ladies had the beef and opted for the salmon. Both were very good and of course we had dessert.

After dinner we spent time in the Colony Club playing another one of those cruise games. This one was where you were supposed to guess the person with four clues. 10 points if you got it on the first clue, 5 the second, 3 the third and 1 for the fourth. We came in second this time.

Now its off to the Hollywood Odyssey for Jack Daniels and a Romeo & Juliet cigar and to finish this post. Tomorrow we will be in Cabo San Lucas.

Don’t forget to click here to view a gallery of photos from our cruise. It will updated each day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Royal Caribbean Panama Canal Cruise Adventure

September 24, 2010 – Day One

We left our home in Menifee with my son Doug and his van loaded with too much luggage and headed for San Diego where we would board the RCCL Radiance of the Seas. After a pleasant drive south on I-15 we arrived safely at the Port of San Diego and the Radiance.  Then the fun began.

The luggage transfer was smooth and effortless, but ten we entered the port building where the line and security made TSA look efficient. After crawling along with all of the senior citizens with their various infirmities we made it to the X-ray machines. This is where the discovered and confiscated the little knife in my pocket, but did not see the big one in my camera bag. So now I can hijack the boat.

This was the worst check-in experience I have ever had with RCCL. It’s really not the fault of RCCL, but more of the Port of San Diego. Seward, Venice and Barcelona were pieces of cake compared to San Diego.

Gwen and Lisa in the Windjammer
Cafe. Click on Photo to see more

Enough carping for now and on to the good stuff. We had been on the Radiance before on our Alaska cruise and her sister ship Brilliance of Seas during our Canary Islands cruise so we had no problems getting about. Our cabin was ready so we dumped our carry on stuff and made our way the the Windjammer Café for some lunch.

As always the Windjammer had a sumptuous buffet lunch laid out with everything from burgers and sandwiches to pizza and spaghetti. I had a burger, sans bun, a great crispy fries along with a Caesar salad. Kathy has a chicken something or other and Lisa stuck with the salad. Gwen had spaghetti and chicken. All in all it was a great lunch.

By the time we got back to the cabin around 2:30 p.m. our luggage had arrived and was sitting outside the door. It took about an hour to unpack everything and put it away in the numerous drawers and cabinets in the cabins, which makes it very comfortable. As usual I always have too much stuff, but I got it all stowed away with no problems.

After a brief nap is was time for the assembly drill. The assembly drill is where you are supposed to put on your life jacket and proceed to your life boat station. Well we assembled in the Schooner Bar and we did not need our life jacket. Suffice it to say I do not have any photos of everyone sitting around wearing those bright orange life vests.

After the drill we left San Diego Harbor and made our way towards the pacific Ocean and headed south to the Mexican Coast. On the way out of San Diego we passed several aircraft carriers at anchor and an missile cruiser making its way into San Diego

The next problem was the dinning arrangements. We arrived at the dinning room at the appointed time and much to our chagrin we were seared at a table for 12 people. As we had requested and was confirmed for a table for four we were not happy. No way were we going to sit at such a large table and loose our privacy. Besides all I would need is to sit with some big mouth liberal or Obama supporter and I would have eaten at the Windjammer every night.

After a bout with the head waiter we got the table changed to a window table that seated four people, but for the latter 8:30 pm diner seating. As we had other things to do tonight like the girls playing Bingo this we ate once again at the Windjammer.

After dinner the girls went off to Bingo and I returned to write this Blog post and upload mt photos to my external hard drive. Tomorrow will be an at sea day and I plan to get everything organized and relax. I think we will have breakfast served in the room and get up late.

Wow, while writing this Blog Kathy came back with $500.00 in Bingo winnings. How about that for ending the day!

Click here to visit a gallery of photos from the cruise.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Pledge To America, Promise or Politics

Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it. — Richard Lamm

Today the Republican Party released its much awaited Pledge to America amidst a flurry of commentary from the left and the right.

Click here to download a PDF file of the 21 page document.

Some of the comments appearing regarding the “The Pledge” that I have seen are:

A Fox News opinion column states; “Conservatives, libertarians and other skeptics of big government across America have every reason to be suspicious that Beltway Republicans have yet to come to Jesus. Unfortunately, the 8,000-word "Pledge to America" released yesterday does little to allay those concerns.  Notwithstanding many appealing passages and a sharp homage to the Constitution, the document’s origin and effect leave much to be desired.”

Kevin Glass writes in Townhall.Com; “Many complain that this will give the GOP something concrete for the Democrats to run against. And conservative blogger Erick Erickson has derided the Pledge as "milquetoast rhetorical flourishes." To an extent this is true. The GOP leadership's number one task between now and November 2nd is "don't blow it." As such, they can't afford to take the kinds of risks that many in the grassroots want them to.”

Ezra Klien writes in the Washington Post; "America is more than a country," begins the GOP's 'Pledge to America.' America, it turns out, is an "idea," an "inspiration," and a "belief." And the GOP wants to govern it."

"Their policy agenda is detailed and specific -- a decision they will almost certainly come to regret. Because when you get past the adjectives and soaring language, the talk of inalienable rights and constitutional guarantees, you're left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that's already got too little of it."

The editors of National Review Online write; "All year long, conservatives have been pressuring Republicans to release a Contract with America for 2010 — an updated version of the campaign platform that the party unveiled before its 1994 sweep of Congress. Thursday morning, Republican congressmen are responding to that pressure by making a “Pledge to America.” The inevitable question will be: Is the pledge as bold as the Contract?"

"The answer is: The pledge is bolder. The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous.”

These are just a few of the comments you will hear in the next few weeks regarding “The Pledge.” There will be those on the Right who will claim it’s not enough, it doesn’t represent the Tea Party, it’s vague with no real action steps and it’s just a political smoke screen. Libertarians and some conservatives will claim there is no mention of shutting down the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Energy and HUD. The Left will claim it’s a document written by lobbyists that will set the nation back 100 years and it’s just a political ruse by the Republicans.

While I agree with some of the critics on the Right I also know that you cannot turn a ocean liner on a dime. Being in business for over 35 years and having participated in many business planning and goal setting session I have some experience in developing business plans and setting strategic goals. In my view The Pledge is the first steps in creating a business plan for the federal government.

For those who have never run business or worked in a business environment here are the steps needed to write and adopt a business plan.
  • SWOT analysis: This is where a business takes an honest look at its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Client feedback: You have to know how your clients view you. In the case of government the clients are the citizens.
  • Develop a mission statement: This is where the owners grind out a statement of the businesses mission. What do we want to be and what do we want to do.
  • Set strategic goals: These goals are loosely worded statements of what the business wants to do and the services or product they want to offer. They are based on the current strengths of the business and strengths that can be developed over time through strategic hires or mergers.
  • Develop action plans based on the strategic goals with timelines and metrics.
This is a very simplified guide to business planning and does not detail each step in the process. Having been through several business planning session I can say, with no equivocation, that it is not done in a week or a month. It usually takes many months and can be a grueling process, especially when you have numerous partners with diverse views of the world they do business in.

As I said earlier I look upon The Pledge as the first steps in a business plan for governing the Republic and managing the federal government. These headline items in “The Pledge” are no more than strategic goals.
  • Give small businesses a tax deduction
  • Repeal job-killing small business mandates like Obamacare's 1099 reporting mandate
  • Cut government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels
  • Establish a hard cap on new discretionary spending
  • End government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines
  • Ensure access for patients with pre-existing conditions
  • Expand health savings accounts
  • Fully fund missile defense
  • Demand an overarching detention policy
  • Work with state and local officials to enforce our immigration laws
The action plans will come if the Republicans attain control of the Congress and get the support of the CEO. It will take more time and pressure from their clients. However, this mission statement is clear:

America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.

America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.

These first principles were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, enshrined in the Constitution, and have endured through hard sacrifice and commitment by generations of Americans. In a self-governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent.

An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down long-standing laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people.

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose. Like free peoples of the past, our citizens refuse to accommodate a government that believes it can replace the will of the people with its own. The American people are speaking out, demanding that we realign our country’s compass with its founding principles and apply those principles to solve our common problems for the common good. The need for urgent action to repair our economy and reclaim our government for the people cannot be overstated. With this document, we pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of reconnecting our highest aspirations to the permanent truths of our founding by keeping faith with the values our nation was founded on, the principles we stand for, and the priorities of our people. This is our Pledge to America.

We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity. We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.

We pledge to make government more transparent in its actions, careful in its stewardship, and honest in its dealings.

We pledge to uphold the purpose and promise of a better America, knowing that to whom much is given, much is expected and that the blessings of our liberty buoy the hopes of mankind.

We make this pledge bearing true faith and allegiance to the people we represent, and we invite fellow citizens and patriots to join us in forming a new governing agenda for America

Most academics, politicians, journalists and opinion writers have never run a business or participated in the development of a business plan. They have been on the outside looking in and criticizing the display in the store window without having the slightest idea of what is going one in the backroom or boardroom. It’s easy to criticize, but it’s much harder and more valuable to take responsibility and do something.

Let’s take some time and read the 21 page document before joining the chorus of critics. Remember, the action plans will not be developed unless the conservatives gain control of Congress and then “We the People” can hold them to the metrics they set. We did not get to this point in our history in a day and we will surely not turn things around in one election. The Pledge, however, is a good first step to restore fiscal responsibility, reduce our national debt, bring smaller government, secure our borders, bolster our nation’s security and restore constitutional government.

Surprise — College Professors are Democrats

"The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather 'What can I and my compatriots do through government' to ... advance our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom? And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect?" - Milton Friedman.

An analysis of Federal Election Commission data conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that Democrats have raked in more than $400,000 just from employees of the University of California's network of colleges — 86 percent of all donations from UC employees.

Harvard employees ranked second in donations to Democrats, giving $327,028 to the party — 77 percent of total donations from employees of the university.

Employees of Stanford, the University of Texas and Princeton also gave more than $100,000 to Democrats. At Princeton, no donations have gone to a Republican, the study found.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has been the top recipient of academic donations, collecting more than $175,000 — likely from those active University of California donors.

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have also received more than $100,000 from university employees, as has Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-independent senate candidate in Florida.

You can read the full story in Politico.

There is nothing new in this report! It has been a long held belief that college campuses are loaded with liberal progressive professors who have the ability and authority to bend the minds of the students they are supposed to teach to fit their political leanings. The students are young and not well versed in the history of the nation or the Constitution. They want to get good grades so they can graduate high on the list and go to graduate school. Is it any wonder we have so many liberal progressive zombies graduating from our institutions of higher learning. It’s really not learning as much as indoctrination.

Most of these professors have no knowledge of the real world. They exist in an academic bubble where they spend a great deal of time talking to each other so they are rarely challenged to defend their ideology. Students certainly can’t do it.

I have had personal experience with these professors while being the person responsible for allocating grants to engineering students at California State University at Fresno (CSUF). My firm, along with other firms in California, gave sizeable grants to survey engineering students at CSUF each year. Our goal was to help these students with financial assistance with the hope that they would consider one of our firms upon their graduation. Was this selfish? Yes in some ways it was, but the students were always the beneficiaries of our money.

One year, while attending the awards banquet where these grants were handed out I learned the professors were urging their students to forego work in the private sector and look for a position with California Department of Transportation or some other government agency. They were advising the students to this as they felt they would have better chances for advancement based on their academic achievements than on their performance.

I was furious when I learned of this. I was able to take the dean of the program aside and give him a “come to Jesus” lecture on the difference in opportunities between working for government and the private sector. He had no idea of how things worked in the private sector as he had been in academia his entire adult life. My pint was that I did not care where the students went to work upon graduation but I did not want him or his professors guiding them away from the private sector on our dollar.

This is just one small example of how students are not honestly shown all of their options in the academic world. Because their professors have little or no knowledge of the real work-a-day world they are unable to relate it to their students. They believe government, like academia, is the safe bet where mediocrity and lack of risk taking is rewarded. Some of those students, however, did not follow the advice of the professors and took positions with private sector firms. Today most of these students are principals, senior managers and executives with these firms some 15 to 20 years later. I know this as a fact because I hired a few of them.

I recall hearing an interview with J.C. Watts a football star at the University of Oklahoma and a Congressman from 1995 to 2003. Watts claimed that upon graduation for OU he returned home and his father told him that he would have clear his head of all the things he learned in college if he wanted to succeed in the real world.

For all you parents with children approaching college age be forewarned that you might have to give your children the same advice that Buddy Watts gave to his son.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Obama’s America

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." --Thomas Jefferson

A friend of mine and reader of this Blog sent me one of those e-rumor type e-mails that so frequent our inbox these days. This particular e-rumor was purportedly written by a classmate of Barak Obama at Columbia University. The piece was entitled “Obama’s Agenda” and exposes Obama’s anti American bent. After a little research I found the author of the piece and that the entire content was an accurate portrayal of the author’s opinion.

The author of the piece is Wayne Allyn Root, the 2008 vice presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket, is a Fox News regular guest and the author of, "The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts." He writes from Henderson, Nevada, Here is the verbatim  content of Root’s article exposing Obama’s radical agenda. I am omitting the quotation marks and using italics instead.

“Rahm Emanuel cynically said, "You never want a crisis to go to waste." It is now becoming clear that the crisis he was referring to is Barack Obama's presidency.

Obama is no fool. He is not incompetent. To the contrary, he is brilliant. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is purposely overwhelming the U.S. economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos -- thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within.

Barack Obama is my college classmate (Columbia University, class of '83). As Glenn Beck correctly predicted from day one, Obama is following the plan of Cloward & Piven, two professors at Columbia University. They outlined a plan to socialize America by overwhelming the system with government spending and entitlement demands. Add up the clues below. Taken individually they're alarming. Taken as a whole, it is a brilliant, Machiavellian game plan to turn the United States into a socialist/Marxist state with a permanent majority that desperately needs government for survival ... and can be counted on to always vote for bigger government. Why not? They have no responsibility to pay for it.

-- Universal health care. The health care bill had very little to do with health care. It had everything to do with unionizing millions of hospital and health care workers, as well as adding 15,000 to 20,000 new IRS agents (who will join government employee unions). Obama doesn't care that giving free health care to 30 million Americans will add trillions to the national debt. What he does care about is that it cements the dependence of those 30 million voters to Democrats and big government. Who but a socialist revolutionary would pass this reckless spending bill in the middle of a depression?

-- Cap and trade. Like health care legislation having nothing to do with health care, cap and trade has nothing to do with global warming. It has everything to do with redistribution of income, government control of the economy and a criminal payoff to Obama's biggest contributors. Those powerful and wealthy unions and contributors (like GE, which owns NBC, MSNBC and CNBC) can then be counted on to support everything Obama wants. They will kick-back hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to Obama and the Democratic Party to keep them in power. The bonus is that all the new taxes on Americans with bigger cars, bigger homes and businesses helps Obama "spread the wealth around."

-- Make Puerto Rico a state. Why? Who's asking for a 51st state? Who's asking for millions of new welfare recipients and government entitlement addicts in the middle of a depression?  Certainly not American taxpayers. But this has been Obama's plan all along. His goal is to add two new Democrat senators, five Democrat congressman and a million loyal Democratic voters who are dependent on big government.

-- Legalize 12 million illegal immigrants. Just giving these 12 million potential new citizens free health care alone could overwhelm the system and bankrupt America. But it adds 12 million reliable new Democrat voters who can be counted on to support big government. Add another few trillion dollars in welfare, aid to dependent children, food stamps, free medical, education, tax credits for the poor, and eventually Social Security.

-- Stimulus and bailouts. Where did all that money go? It went to Democrat contributors, organizations (ACORN), and unions -- including billions of dollars to save or create jobs of government employees across the country. It went to save GM and Chrysler so that their employees could keep paying union dues. It went to AIG so that Goldman Sachs could be bailed out (after giving Obama almost $1 million in contributions). A staggering $125 billion went to teachers (thereby protecting their union dues). All those public employees will vote loyally Democrat to protect their bloated salaries and pensions that are bankrupting America. The country goes broke, future generations face a bleak future, but Obama, the Democrat Party, government, and the unions grow more powerful. The ends justify the means.

-- Raise taxes on small business owners, high-income earners, and job creators. Put the entire burden on only the top 20 percent of taxpayers, redistribute the income, punish success, and reward those who did nothing to deserve it (except vote for Obama). Reagan wanted to dramatically cut taxes in order to starve the government. Obama wants to dramatically raise taxes to starve his political opposition.

With the acts outlined above, Obama and his regime have created a vast and rapidly expanding constituency of voters dependent on big government; a vast privileged class of public employees who work for big government; and a government dedicated to destroying capitalism and installing themselves as socialist rulers by overwhelming the system.

Add it up and you've got the perfect Marxist scheme -- all devised by my Columbia University college classmate Barack Obama.”

You can read more of Root’s experiences at Columbia University by clicking here. It’s a good commentary on the state of today’s institutions of “higher learning”.

The question I have is why it so hard for the media and voters to see what Obama really believes. Everything in his background, education, associations and writings give credence to Mr. Root’s commentary.

Obama is a shallow man with no real foundation in the Constitution or American history. He has written two books about himself in which he bloviates on his experiences and self centered beliefs. He has never held a regular paying job, never run a business, never taken responsibility for anything in his life. During his tenure as the editor of the Law Review at Harvard University he never authored one sentence. His academic records and accomplishments were never made public like those of George W. Bush and other presidential candidates before him. He voted “present” 129 times as a Illinois state legislator. Voting present is not unusual for a state legislator but as Sarah Palin said;” We don't have a 'present' button as governor,'' Palin said after an appearance before fellow Republican governors in Minneapolis. "We are expected to lead, we are expected to take action and not just vote 'present.”

While voting present in itself is not a real issue, but in Obama’s case it’s more showing of his lack of courage and unwillingness to leave any footprints. For example, in 1997, Obama voted "present" on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted "present" on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.

We aren't talking about a "present" vote on whether to name a state office building after a deceased state official, but rather about votes that reflect an officeholder's core values.

In 2001, Obama voted "present" on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted "present" on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the Audacity of Hope, on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the "born alive" bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote "present" on the bills instead of "no."

And finally in 2001, Obama voted "present" on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

Obama has been putty in the hands of his mentors and handlers. He was taught how to give an inspiring speech (so were Hitler and Mussolini and even stretches his neck in the upward pose made so famous by the Italian Fascist dictator) but he can’t say so much as good morning without the use of a teleprompter, most of the time he is reading someone else’s words. He is arrogant and narcissistic and he likes the good life and feels he is above the common man, those who he panders to.

Robin of Berkeley writes in the American Thinker; “But Obama the warrior? I don't see it. He's a poser and a posturer, a blank screen on which others project their fantasies. Obama does not embrace his father's dreams, nor does he have many of his own.”

“He's just Barry, an orphan with no country, the perennial outsider. A loner who prefers his own company or the anonymity of crowds. In clinical terms, he may be a "secret schizoid" -- outwardly engaged but, in actuality, uneasy around people.”

“Obama comforts himself with pleasures -- parties, golf, vacations. He's easily tempted by the allure of wealth and power. Through his affiliation with the slumlord, Tony Rezko, he and Michelle acquired a mansion.”

“Where was Obama's righteous indignation when black tenants endured rat-infested,  unheated apartments? Where was Obama's towering passion when he cavalierly eliminated the D.C. school voucher program? As for his father, if Obama is ablaze with Barack Sr.'s spirit, why did Junior skip the man's funeral, and why did he allow Dad's family to live in squalor?”

“Obama is no warrior. He's the middleman, the closer. This country has had a date with destiny since the radical Left began spreading its poison decades ago. Obama is simply the empty suit brought in to close the deal.”

“Obama doesn't have the fire, or the cojones, as Palin memorably phrased it, to be a revolutionary. He likes his arugula and his fine wine. He will not get his manicured fingers dirty.”

The big difference with this “empty suit” and others is that Obama has an absolute majority in the Congress. He is putty in the hands of Pelosi and Reid and this is what makes him dangerous.

We are in a time analogous to the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. The water of socialism and tyranny is rising behind the dike and the conservative Republicans are the little Dutch boy holding back the flood. If conservative Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and even old line conservative Democrats don’t pull together in November and 2012 the dike will break and we will all be inundated by a flood of socialism and tyranny.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What are the Qualifications for Being a Member of Congress?

Article I, Section 2 — The House
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen. — U.S. Constitution

Article I, Section 3 — The Senate
No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen. — U.S. Constitution.

According to the U.S. Constitution the qualifications for a member of the House of Representatives are:
  • Must be 25 years of age (when seated, not when elected).
  • Must have been a citizen of the United States for 7 years.
  • Must be an inhabitant of the state from which elected.
  • (NOTE: custom, but not the Constitution, requires that a representative live in the district that he or she represents.)
Qualifications for a member of the U.S. Senate are:
  • Must be 30 years of age (when seated, not when elected).
  • Must have been a citizen of the United States for 9 years.
  • Must be an inhabitant of the state from which elected.
There is no mention of intelligence, experience, moral character, amount of wealth, race, gender, sexual preferences, religious beliefs or even criminal record.

When a Tea Party ‘extremists’ like a Christine O’Donnell runs for a senates seat according to Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution she is perfectly qualified to take her seat in the Senate if elected.

According to the mainstream and even conservative press she is not qualified due to some teenage antics, a tax problem with the IRS, unverified statements about her academic achievements and late mortgage payments on a house she sold right before it was foreclosed on. While none of these issues are disqualifications according to the Constitution they certainly can be to the voters of Delaware if they wish.

According to the mainstream media and elite pundits here are few qualifications they look for when supporting a candidate for Congress.

Impeachment as a sitting federal judge (Alcee Hastings of Florida) impeached for corruption and perjury.

Running a homosexual prostitution ring out of your Georgetown house while a sitting member of the House — Barney Frank (D-MA)

Lying about one’s combat record in Vietnam — Richard Blumenthal, democratic candidate for the Senate from Connecticut.

Causing the death of a young woman while driving under the influence — Ted Kennedy (D-MA)

Unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandal in which one sitting Senator and five members of the House were convicted of bribery and conspiracy. All six were democrats. — John Murtha (D-PA)

Former Sen. Brock Adams. The late Washington Democrat was forced to stop campaigning after numerous accusations of drugging, assault and rape, the first surfacing in 1988.

Convicted of bribery and corruption —Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)

Soliciting sex from teenage boys — Rep Mark Foley (R-FL)

I could go on and on with this list of supposedly qualified candidates but little would be gained. By now you get the point. Qualifications are in the eye of the voter. If the representative brings home the “pork” the voters and the media tend to overlook many things. I have personal experience with two such examples of borderline misconduct while holding a Congressional seat, one a Democrat and the other a Republican. To write anymore would be libelous.

So when the media and the pundits talk about qualifications they are talking about things that fit their agenda, not Constitutional qualifications. This is why term limits are very desirable. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Too Good Not To Share

"The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” —Samuel Adams 

I found these little gems on the Internet and felt they were just too good not to share.

Ronald Reagan’s famous “Good Morning in America” ad resurfaces with a new twist.

Citizens for the Republic – a conservative grassroots lobbying organization reborn under the leadership of Reagan stalwarts – today launched a national television advertising campaign with the release of its 60-second TV spot, “Mourning in America.”

The ad – a twist on the 1984 Reagan campaign’s fabled “Better, Prouder, Stronger” ad, the best-known of the “Morning in America” series – captures the nation’s mood today as well as the original ad captured the mood of the nation’s electorate a quarter-century ago.

Click here to view the ad, its really very good and send the right message.

Bill Clinton has his eye on Sarah Palin.

Democrats who think Sarah Palin would be an easy mark if she were the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 should be careful what they wish for, says former President Bill Clinton. “It’s always a mistake to underestimate your opponent,” Clinton told George Stephanopoulos, the anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Clinton made the comment after Stephanopoulos asked him to reflect on the media buzz about Palin, especially after her weekend speech at the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Ronald Reagan Dinner fundraiser.

Click here to read the entire article click here. Notice the juxtaposition of the two photos in the article and the leering look on Clinton’s face. I bet when Clinton goes to bed each night and closes his eyes it’s not Hillary he sees.

Chris Matthews gives another blast at Obama.

A truly shocking thing happened on Monday's "Hardball": Chris Matthews, the man who once proudly boasted about getting a thrill up his leg when Barack Obama speaks, actually scolded the President on national television.

Maybe even more surprising, the MSNBCer told the object of his affection, "Stop saying that giving people tax cuts is giving people money. It`s their money!"

The unashamed liberal host continued, "A tax cut is when the government doesn`t take our money. It`s an important distinction" Click here for the video clip and transcript, It’s worth 30 seconds to watch the spittle sprinkling Matthews scold his one time idol.

Another Republican looser spills his sour grapes.

Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., who lost his bid for re-election in the Republican primary to conservative Trey Gowdy, says President Ronald Reagan might not feel at home in today’s Republican Party. And it’s not just the conservative nature of the tea party that is flexing its muscle in the GOP, because Reagan is a conservative standard bearer in his own right. But negative Tea Partiers’ have hijacked the GOP, Inglis said on CNN, The Hill  reports. Click here to read the full story.

What would Mr. Rogers think?

Katy Perry adapts 'Hot N Cold' for 'Sesame Street' duet with Elmo in cleavage-revealing dress. Days after her fiancé, Russell Brand, was arrested for attacking a photographer who aimed a camera up her dress, Perry appeared in a new "Sesame Street" promo video in an outfit that could raise the ire of viewers' parents.

The 24-year-old singer is seen in a low-cut yellow-green heart-shaped dress with a shear piece of material covering her ample cleavage. The wedding veil on her head is part of a dress-up game with Elmo that has gone awry.

Click here to view the video

Boston bans sugary soft drinks. Will beans be next?

Health officials in Boston are saying they are considering ways to curb or even ban the sale of sugary beverages in the city’s municipal buildings.  The presence of calorie-rich drinks has government agencies worried about the health of employees and visitors to government agencies.  As a result, the city’s health, education and housing leaders are putting their heads together and working to develop a policy that would reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, the Boston Globe reported Monday.

Click here for full report and video. It’s really getting crazy out there. Look out Bush Beans, you’re next.

Eight Dems Arrested in Bell, CA 'Corruption on Steroids' - Not a Single Mention of Party Affiliation from the Media.

Today, eight city council members were arrested in Bell, California for what Los Angeles County District Attorney labeled "corruption on steroids." Thus far, every major news outlet that has reported on the story has omitted the fact that all eight individuals arrested are Democrats.

These glaring omissions come only weeks after NewsBusters reported that of the 351 stories on the then-brewing controversy, 350 had omitted party affiliations, and one had mentioned they were Democrats only in apologizing for not doing so sooner. That’s a percentage of 0.28%. Also none of the local TV media in the L.A. area has mentioned their party affiliation. If you think media bias does not exist you are either blind, suffering from cognitive dissonance or just plain crazy.

Click here to view the full story.

Has Chris Matthews Lost His Mind?

“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” —Alexander Pope

Before reading this post I urge you to view the video of Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball. This is either the best ploy for ratings or an epiphany for the spittle sprinkling uber liberal? In any event I think you will enjoy the video clip. I use this clip as the lead in to what I have to say about the Tea Party.

Before continuing I have just learned that an anonymous donner has granted one million dollars to the Tea Party Patriots to be used to promote their efforts.

The nonprofit Tea Party Patriots said it had received the donation from a single contributor who wants it divided up and given to local coordinators by Oct. 4. The group's spokesman told reporters that recipients of the money must spend it by Nov. 2, but they are barred from using it for ads or fliers that mention a specific candidate.

You can barely look at a political website these days without reading a post about the Tea Party movement. Of course, we've heard plenty from liberals. "They're fascist-racist KKK-Nazis!" The Rockefeller Republicans have tut-tutted their opinions from the cocktail circuit as well, "Egads! Some of these people look as if they shop at Wal-Mart!"

However, there are plenty of old school Republicans who don't hate the Tea Party movement per se; they simply don't understand it. So, take a look at some of the perceptions the establishment’s Republicans have about the Tea Party movement and why I believe they're mistaken.

The Tea Partiers have a radical agenda!
This oft made charge is extremely odd. After all, what are the issues that keep coming up over and over and over when you talk to Tea Partiers? They want to get spending under control, fear that the federal government is getting too big, and they want to stick to the Constitution.

Not only are none of those radical beliefs, the overwhelming majority of politicians in BOTH parties would agree in principle with all 3 items. The most controversial one would be about the government getting too big, but even Bill Clinton said, "The era of big government is over." So maybe the real problem isn't that the Tea Party is "radical." Maybe it's that America's political class has become so comfortable with lying and double talk that telling the truth has started to seem "radical" to them.

These Tea Partiers don't believe in compromise!
Tea Partiers believe in compromise, just not what passes for "compromise" in D.C. these days. You see, "compromise" in Washington seems to consist of giving liberals almost everything they want as a starting point and then negotiating how far, if at all, to move from there. (See WSJ article by Peggy Noonan, a past critic of the Tea Party movement)

Even when Republicans are in charge, what do we see? Spending goes up, the government still gets bigger, and the Constitution is still ignored. Here's an idea: How about we decide that we're going to stick to the Constitution, dramatically cut spending, and severely curtail the size of government as a starting point? Then, we can negotiate from there about how big of a win we’re going to have instead of conceding ground to the Left on every issue.

The Tea Party is driving away moderates! One of the biggest myths in politics is that moderate candidates are almost always more electable than conservative candidates. Sure, some moderates are more electable than conservatives and vice-versa, but when you look at poll numbers, it's amazing how often the supposedly unelectable conservative candidate does just as well as the moderate, if not better.

The reason why that's true is because the media environment has changed. People are now flooded with information, much of which they consider unreliable. But, if their neighbor says it, a blog they like runs the story, or their favorite talk show host puts it out there, then they buy into it.

Inevitably, it's conservative candidates, not lukewarm moderates, who get people excited and produce that sort of powerful grassroots reaction. Many establishment Republicans will instinctively dismiss what I've just said, but this is the year of fired up Tea Partiers, and where are Independents leaning? They're supporting the GOP 2-to-1. (Rasmussen poll)

Do you think that's because of the scintillating moderation of Olympia Snowe or because they're hungry for more John McCain? Please! It's because the Democrats are baiting the hook by doing such a lousy job and the excitement generated by the Tea Party movement is helping to reel the independents in, not frighten them off.

The Tea Party is knocking off important Republicans we need in D.C.!
Time and time again after the Tea Partiers have knocked off establishment Republicans, the losers have proven they never cared about anything other than their jobs in the first place. Arlen Specter switched parties. Charlie Crist ran as an independent. Lisa Murkowski is running a write-in campaign. Dede Scozzafava endorsed a Democrat. Mike Castle refused to endorse Christine O'Donnell. Bob Inglis and Bob Bennett mouthed off about conservatives after they lost.

So tell me: why should anyone be sorry that a mediocre, disloyal group of career politicians, who don't care about anything other than their cushy jobs and eating the bean soup in the Senate restaurant, aren't going to be in D.C.?

These Tea Partiers are just Republicans who will fall in line once the GOP gets power again! Right now, the Tea Party movement is primarily benefiting the Republican Party. Yet, what you find if you talk to Tea Partiers is that if you're a Republican in D.C. and your name isn't Jim DeMint or Michele Bachmann, the Tea Party movement probably doesn't like you very much and they definitely don't trust you.

Put another way, the Tea Partiers are JUST WAITING for the GOP to blow it. The moment it does, the Tea Partiers will land on it with both feet. Some people might think that's unfair, but it's a natural reaction to the Bush years, when the Republican Party talked incessantly about fiscal responsibility even as it expanded government and increased spending. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and you join Arlen Specter and Mike Castle in the unemployment line.

These Tea Partiers don't understand how politics works! Granted, there are plenty of people at Tea Parties who aren't all that hooked into politics. Additionally, it's fair to say that some of the candidates the Tea Party has backed have turned out to be duds.

Of course, the same could be said of the establishment. Remember Dede Scozzafava? And how about that Charlie Crist? Moreover, just look at Bush's second term. Amnesty was pushed for illegal aliens — more than once. Look at the bungled reaction to the bad press after Katrina. What kind of job was done on the Iraq war messaging? Did it really make sense to push Harriet Miers? How well did the Dubai Port fiasco turn out politically? How's TARP looking today?

The fact of the matter is that the Republican establishment's political judgment over the last few years has been simply atrocious. If the question is, “Who has had a better grasp of politics — the bloggers, talk radio hosts and Tea Partiers, or the GOP establishment and consultant class?” — the answer is the former. Perhaps that shouldn't be the case, but the D.C. bubble has a funny way of turning razor sharp political minds into piles of mush the size of Barack Obama’s ego.

These Tea Partiers just want to say "no" to everything! Right now, our country is like a car that's heading toward a cliff at 100 mph and the people in charge want to simultaneously speed up and cut the brake lines. Are we supposed to say, "Why don’t we meet you in the middle? Cut the brake lines, slow it down to 55 mph, and we'll stop all our backseat complaining about that cliff. Deal?"

If we want to save the American dream, we have to say "no.” If we want to stop this country from going bankrupt, we have to say "no." If we want future generations of Americans to have a chance to live in the same great country we grew up in, we have to say "no."

That doesn't mean the Tea Party isn't willing to say "yes" on issues that help pull the country back from the brink. Put a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and a repeal of Obamacare on the agenda and watch how quickly Tea Partiers say "yes." But, until we get the barrel of the gun out of this country's mouth, we have to keep saying "no" when we're asked for handfuls of bullets.

The Republican elites must be reminded that in northern states in 1856 anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs and ex-Free Soilers, became the principal opposition to the dominant Democratic Party. Their candidate, John C. Freemont, was handily defeated by the Democrat James Buchanan. Four years latter a little known, one term congressman Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States.

I do not look for a third party, but if the Tea Party candidates have success in November I believe one of their ranks will be the nominee of the Republican Party in 2012. The question is, will the establishment Republicans unite and support the conservative Tea Partier or will they pull a Rockefeller and refuse to join the party? The sense of entitlement may just be too strong to allow them to do that. In 2010 the media loved John McCain and called him a “moderate” Republican. They knew he was a weak candidate with little passionate support amongst the Republicans and Independents. This was to their liking. When Election Day rolled around the conservatives stayed home. Even with the help of Sarah Palin McCain could not bring in the vote of the conservatives. Let us not let the media pick our candidate in 2012.

This may be my last political blog for a while as I head off for a cruise south to the Panama Canal. I will be tying to post travel blogs along with photos as our RCCL ship, The Radiance of the Seas, makes it way south from San Diego along the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua to the Panama Canal. We will then pass through the Canal and stop at Cartagena, Columbia as we make out way to Grand Cayman and then on to Tampa, Florida.

Our ports of call will be: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Acapulco, Mexico; Huatulco, Mexico; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Panama Canal (Cruising Canal); Cristobal Pier, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia; George Town, Grand Cayman and Tampa, Florida. It should be a grand time and I plan to take many photos for the newsletter articles I plan to publish upon my return.

The Politics of Resentment

“You won’t get gun control by disarming law-abiding citizens. There’s only one way to get real gun control: Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up, and if you don’t actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time... It’s a nasty truth, but those who seek to inflict harm are not fazed by gun controllers. I happen to know this from personal experience.” —Ronald Reagan, 1983

Thomas Sowell writes in Townhall.Com; “Few things have captured in microcosm what has gone so painfully wrong, where racial issues are concerned, like the recent election for mayor of Washington, D.C.

“Mayor Adrian Fenty, under whom the murder rate has gone down and the school children's test scores have gone up, was resoundingly defeated for re-election.”

“Nor was Mayor Fenty simply a passive beneficiary of the rising test scores and falling murder rates. He appointed Michelle Rhee as head of the school system and backed her as she fought the teachers' union and fired large numbers of ineffective teachers — something considered impossible in most cities across the country.”

“Mayor Fenty also appointed the city's chief of police, Cathy Lanier, who has cracked down on hoodlumism, as well as crime.”

“Either one of these achievements would made mayors local heroes in most other cities. Why then was he clobbered in the election?”

“One key fact tells much of the story: Mayor Fenty received more than 70 percent of the white vote in Washington. His opponent received more than 80 percent of the black vote.”

“Both men are black. But the head of the school system that he appointed is Asian and the chief of police is a white woman. More than that, most of the teachers who were fired were black. There were also bitter complaints that black contractors did not get as many of the contracts for doing business with the city as they expected.”

“In short, the mayor appointed the best people he could find, instead of running a racial patronage system, as a black mayor of a city with a black majority is apparently expected to. He also didn't spend as much time schmoozing with the folks as was expected.”

“So what if he gave their children a better education and gave everybody a lower likelihood of being murdered?”

“The mayor's faults were political faults. He did his job, produced results and thought that this should be enough to get him re-elected. He refused to do polls and focus groups, and he ignored what his political advisers were warning him about.”

“No doubt Mayor Fenty is now a sadder and wiser man politically. While that may help him if he wants to pursue a political career, Adrian Fenty's career is not nearly as important as what his story tells us about the racial atmosphere in this country.”

“How did we reach the point where black voters put racial patronage and racial symbolism above the education of their children and the safety of everyone?”

“There are many reasons but the trend is ominous. One key factor was the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling.”

“President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty"-- a war that we have lost, by the way-- bankrolled all kinds of local "leaders" and organizations with the taxpayers' money, in the name of community "participation" in shaping the policies of government.”

“These "leaders" and community activists have had every reason to hype racial resentments and to make issues "us" against "them."

“One of the largely untold stories of our time has been the story of how ACORN, Jesse Jackson and other community activists have been able to transfer billions of dollars from banks to their own organizations' causes, with the aid of the federal government, exemplified by the Community Reinvestment Act and its sequels.”

“Racial anger and racial resentments are the fuel that keeps this lucrative racket going. How surprised should anyone be that community activist groups have used mau-mau disruptions in banks and harassed both business and government officials in their homes?”

“Lyndon Johnson once said that it is not hard to do the right thing. What is hard is knowing what is right. We can give him credit for good intentions, so long as we remember what road is paved with good intentions.”

The above is attributed to Thomas Sowell writing in Townhall.Com. Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

In the same publication Pat Buchanan wrote; "Black unemployment last month hit 16.7 percent. Among black teenagers, it is 45 percent. Blacks, bear the brunt of this economic crisis in ways that are unimaginable to other Americans. Their homes are being foreclosed on more often, and they are less able to rely on a source of background wealth to help them get through."

This is happening all across the nation as cities, counties and states are going broke paying for failed “Great Society” programs, bloated government and enormous unfunded liabilities from pensions and health and welfare obligations.

We have constantly elected politicians who have either promised way too much or vowed to cut the size of government and then bow to the pressures of the Left and go back on those vows. The public has become cynical and apathetic towards elections. This nation had its highest electoral turnout for 1960 presidential election (the first year I voted in a presidential election) with 67% of eligible voters going to the polls. Compare that to Iraq where they had a 95% turnout, in many cases voters facing intimidation and gunfire.  As the comedian George Carlin once said about politicians who get elected, “it’s not the politicians who suck, it’s the public who vote them in that sucks.”

For years the American public has been lied to, bamboozled and disappointed by the political leaders they elect each year. Most of the media does a horrible job of holding politicians accountable for their vows and promises. I have written ad nausea about the left biased press and their agenda so there is not gain to be made in being redundant.

In 2009 enter the Tea Party, the scourge of politicians of all stripes. Right now they are attacking the Democrats, because they are the ruling party, and backing conservative Republicans. If Republicans prevail in November I guarantee you the Tea Party will also hold their feet to the fire. This is why establishment Republicans, while accepting their support at the polls, are not happy to see them on the scene. They know their support is a mile wide, but an inch deep.

These elite Republicans like Lindsey Graham. Olympia Snow, Susan Collins, John McCain and Carl Rove to name a few are so used to eating the lousy bean soup that is served in the senate restaurant they will do and say anything to keep that members pin. I have eaten there and tasted the soup. Campbell’s is better, less expensive and more in line with my Tea Party leanings.