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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Mother

On February 20, 2012, my Mother went home to be with Our Savior. She went peacefully in her sleep, which is exactly how she wanted to go.

Life didn't give mom a lot of breaks. For one thing, money was a constant worry. When we didn't have enough, she stressed over it. When we did have enough, she constantly worried about losing it. The former was due to her being a child of The Great Depression. The latter was due to her losing her business as a result of the vagaries of IRS regulations. Nevertheless, she knew how to squeeze a penny until Lincoln screamed for mercy. Even more, we never wanted for a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, or food in our bellies.

Bad luck, bad men, and a bad back plagued her throughout her life. Yet, if I had to define her life in one word, that word would be 'perseverance.' My father abandoned us when I was a month old, making her a single parent long before it was socially accepted. Despite the hardship and stigma attached to our circumstance in the 70's, she still managed to raise my sister and I into decent people. She did this with love, sensitivity, and, in my case, a wooden spoon.

Much is made of the Protestant Work Ethic. My mother's work ethic made Protestants look like a bunch of layabouts. Many was the day that I saw her go to work at a job she had come to hate, even though her back caused her so much pain she could barely stand. Then, when she came home, she would take care of us and cook a meal.

Cook?  Such a bland way to describe what she did. In keeping with her Sicilian heritage, food was love in our house. And when she had the time and inclination, her spaghetti and meatballs were such that I'm willing to bet that Emeril would have wept with joy at having had the privilege to sample such a meal.  My mother could create a feast out of a pound of ground beef and a can of Cream of Mushroom Soup.

She also had a heart as big as all outdoors. I don't know how many Thanksgiving holidays involved setting a place at our table for someone that had no family or was too far from home to enjoy the holiday with their own family. It was never a question of 'if', just 'how many?' Some people adopt stray pets, my mom adopted stray people.

The overriding thing I observed about her was, no matter how many times her heart got broken, or how much pain she was in because of some ailment or other, or how big a financial disaster fell upon her, she never waivered in her belief that things would get better. Her faith was her rock, even before she came to Jesus. When she did, in fact, profess her faith in Jesus Christ, she at last found the peace that had eluded her for so many years. I am firm in my belief that her taking that step, combined with who knows how many of her prayers, led my sister, along with her husband and children, and I to make the same journey a few years later. It was a journey that resulted in me meeting the remarkable woman who became my wife and the mother of my children.

When she sensed that her time was coming, ever the planner and preparer, she set her affairs in order, made sure that we all understood her wishes and took steps to insure that they would be carried out with as little financial burden to her family as possible. That done, she turned and  faced her end, ready and without fear. On the morning of February 20, 2012, she went to be in the arms of her Creator. From where I stand, she did so having done her duty as a "...good and faithful servant." Though the world is diminished by her passing, we, who are her legacy, embrace all that she was, and all that she taught us, and we strive to pass those qualities on to our children. It is the best way to honor her memory.

Monday, February 6, 2012

4 More Years of Obama

Political predictions are always a risky thing. Unfortunately, I have a lot of evidence to support this one. The main one is the cowardice of the GOP. When Obama came out of nowhere, flashing his non-credentials as a "community organizer", the GOP should have been able to field a credible opponent and send Obie back to whatever community he came from. Instead, they simply looked at their roster at whose turn it was to run and we ended up with a feckless campaign featuring the unfocused and relatively unenthusiastic John McCain. The end result? We got President Obama.

It's the Standard GOP Playbook: While the Democrats find young, dynamic, and passionate candidates to run for President, the GOP sends up mostly bland, sterile, white bread, Old Guard, men that speak to their audience like the animatronic presidents at Disneyland. They hope to win on the strength of their ideas, as opposed to the sound byte, bumper-sticker philosophy that is the stock and trade of the Democrats.

The ideas are sound; the combination of less spending, smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, and more liberty has proven time and again to be the path to stunningly fast prosperity. People with more disposable income will spend more money, start businesses, save more, and do all of the things that money makes possible, thus stimulating the economy. Every GOP candidate touts these ideas as their platform, as if they were the originators of them. But, in the long run, it becomes painfully obvious that they don't really believe in them.

When Bush the Elder announced "Read my lips; no new taxes!" Americans were encouraged. He seemed to be willing to advance the ideas set forth by Ronald Reagan who at least managed to bring about some prosperity and stem some of the growth of government while battling the spendthrifts of the Democrat-held Senate and House.

Then he raised taxes.

After a lackluster campaign, we had Bill Clinton inflicted upon us for four years at which time the GOP sent up Bob Dole; another bland, sterile, white bread Old Guard Republican whose campaign died in the womb, giving us another four years of Billy Jeff and his lefty-loony administration.

Things looked hopeful when Baby Bush took office. It was as the same feeling one gets when you're caught in the middle of the chaos of a bar brawl and the bouncers show up to break it up and remove the idiots. It seemed like the adults had returned to the White House and ended the high school house party that had been going on for eight years. George W. Bush spoke unabashedly of his faith in Jesus, America, Americans, and the principles of less government and free enterprise.

And then he went on to expand government, spend recklessly, and make government control on the people easier to accomplish, even though he promised it would be used with caution. A politician's promise, worth exactly what you think it's worth.

Which brings us to today.

Instead of finding someone that can speak to the people in such a way as to make them believe that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated, the GOP has fielded (with one notable exception we'll get to later) a bunch of clones. We have Newt, who claims to be a conservative, even though his record proves otherwise. Then, there is Mitt, whom I believe he will be the candidate because he is so completely bland, sterile, white bread,  and, a big plus, he is second generation Old Guard. Mitt will be The One, and he will lose. He will lose because he will attempt to out teleprompter the Teleprompter-in-Chief while attempting to explain how Romneycare is different from Obamacare (hint: it isn't).

The only true conservative in the mix is Ron Paul. Ron Paul is the only man of principle in the race; he refuses to take the government pension he is allowed by law, he refuses to vote for any tax increases whatsoever, and he believes in forcing government to work within the confines of The Constitution. Unfortunately, in this day and age of sound bytes and appearance over substance, Ron Paul is fighting an uphill battle. His shrill voice, his age, and his occasional stumbles over language work against him. Those that bother to look at his record in Congress can't help but be impressed by his consistency in voting. But, this is overshadowed by the fact that he has not managed to advance any of his bills to fruition. Part of this is because he has failed to ingratiate himself to The Machine, and part (most) of it is because the Old Guard GOP doesn't want to fix what's wrong in this country because for them it's not broken!

So steel yourself for this November. Mitt will run. And lose. Obama will continue us on our journey towards Socialism and the GOP, if we're really, really lucky, will finally learn that we no longer listen to what they say; we watch what they do. And then they will either start doing it or be replaced by a party that will.