Thursday, May 30, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day...

I don't listen to country music - not on purpose anyway.  So this story was news to me:

I Drive Your Truck by Lee Habib, in National Review Online
It happens now and then. You hear a story so sad, so beautiful, so filled with loss and pain and grief and love, that it makes you cry. Really cry.
Two years ago, I was making a grocery run for my family on Memorial Day when a story came on the local NPR station in Oxford, Miss. It was about a father whose son had been killed in action in northwest Afghanistan. The father was Paul Monti; his son was Sergeant Jared Monti. Jared died in Afghanistan trying to save the life of one of his men. Jared was 30 years old when he died, and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism under fire. But that was small consolation to his father: The son he loved and admired was gone, forever.
...Then came the part of the interview that hit me hardest: It was the moment when Paul Monti talked about his son’s truck, and why he still has it, and still drives it.

“What can I tell you? It’s him,” Jared’s father explained, nearly choking on his words. “It’s got his DNA all over it. I love driving it because it reminds me of him, though I don’t need the truck to remind me of him. I think about him every hour of every day.”
I was already tearing up before that story about Jared’s truck. But as the details piled up — the truck was a Dodge 4X4 Ram 1500 with decals on it that included the 10th Mountain Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, an American flag, and a Go Army sticker — I lost it.
And there I was sitting in my car in a Walmart parking lot on a sunny Memorial Day in my hometown crying hard. Crying like a child. Crying as if I’d lost my child.
I wasn’t the only one in a car crying that day. It turns out that a Nashville songwriter named Connie Harrington was in her car, too, listening to the very same story. Moved to tears, she pulled over to the side of the road, scribbling notes as the story proceeded.
She wrote down detail upon detail, everything she could remember. When she got back home, Harrington couldn’t get that story of the soldier’s father and his son’s truck out of her mind. So she did what writers do, and turned the words of that grieving father into a song. With the help of two co-writers, the finished product found its way to singer Lee Brice, who recorded the song called, aptly, “I Drive Your Truck.”
Last month, the song reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
The YouTube video has nearly 5 million views. If you watch it, bring a stack of Kleenex tissues. It is that moving.
But this remarkable story didn’t end there. It turns out that Jared’s father got a message on Facebook from a woman whose son had died in the same battle Jared died in.
“She sent me a message that she had heard the song,” Paul Monti told NPR last week, “and that I had to listen to it. She knew I drove Jared’s truck and she drove her son’s truck.”
Paul Monti told NPR that he remembered not being able to get through the entire song. “I’d get into it a few bars or so and kind of welled up,” he explained.
But he still didn’t know that it was his interview — his own words — that inspired the song. That the song was about him and his son and his son’s truck.
Meanwhile, Connie Harrington was doing everything she could to track down Paul Monti and let him know that he was the song’s inspiration. But she was having a hard time finding him. After many hours searching on the web, she finally found his name, and got his phone number. And earlier this month, Paul Monti flew to Nashville to meet the people who wrote that song, and to celebrate the song’s meteoric success.
“I Drive Your Truck” captures in painstaking detail the grief of Paul Monti, with the kind of emotional honesty that has made country music America’s music. If you don’t know them, here are the opening lyrics to the song about a truck that’s moved a nation:

If ever there were words written that captured the universal grief of a parent coping with the loss of a fallen son or daughter, that opening verse and the chorus contain them.
What the song does not do is describe how Paul’s son Jared lost his life in Afghanistan. In June 2006, Jared’s patrol came under fire from 50 enemy fighters. One of the soldiers who served under him was wounded and needed help. Despite the blistering firefight, Jared responded to the call not once or twice but three times. It was that last try that got him killed.
That was the way Jared was hardwired. His father explained that his son was the kind of man who never gave up on people and always tried to do the right thing. “The right thing was trying to save this young private who was alone, out in the open, injured and calling out for help,” Paul told NPR last week.
The subject then turned back to the loss of his son, and the truck he had talked about almost two years ago in that first NPR interview. He said this: “You know, I think it’s important for people to understand — or at least try to understand — what Gold Star parents go through. Your child is your future and when you lose your child you’ve lost your future, and I think one of the reasons so many Gold Star parents drive their children’s trucks is because they have to hold on. They just have to hold on.”
The grief Jared’s father feels will never go away. And he’ll probably drive that truck of his son’s for as long as it will run. And longer.
The last verse of the song says it all:
I’ve cussed, I’ve prayed, I’ve said goodbye
I’ve shook my fist and asked God why
These days, when I’m missin’ you this much
I drive your truck
On Memorial Day, this most sacred of all secular American holidays, gather your family around the computer screen and watch that video of “I Drive Your Truck.” Cry a little bit. Cry a lot. Cry together. And then reach out to a soldier. Reach out to the parent of a soldier. And thank them for everything they’ve done. And are about to do.

The song...well, I don't listen to country music...but I did for the sake of Memorial Day:

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wait, What...

President Obama gave the commencement address to the graduates of Morehouse College (an all-male, mostly black college).

National Review's Noah Glyn noted that the speech sounded conservative, and was based on personal responsibility...

Like this little gem:

"...keep setting an example for what it means to be a the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner..."

Wait what?

"...keep setting an example for what it means to be a the best your boyfriend..."

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

That's like taking a cat for a walk.  I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Are Today's Top Stories....

IRS Division head Lois Lerner...yes, and employee of the IRS...invoked her 5th Amendment right against self incrimination during a congressional hearing.  I think that ranks in the Top Five.  I'll admit, the Tornado in Oklahoma is big, so is the jihadist attack in London, the DOJ investigation into the leaks...but then what.  What is bigger than this?  Bob Woodward (you know, from Watergate) said this is one that, at this point, could legitimately include a comparison to Watergate.

 FOX News put it #1 - ahead of their own reporter getting investigated.

Other than that, the IRS Scandal, let alone Lerner's pleading the 5th - did not make the top 20 for CNN, NBC, CBS or ABC.  Not even on the page.  A mom having her son arrested for taking her Pop Tarts (...depends if she already toasted - in my book) made several...

Obamas' prom picture is a bigger story that the IRS targeting Right Wingers...

Again, if mom already toasted, I would say its a misdemeanor...

GITMO is a 'positive' story for the administration - even though its a broken campaign promise

Jodi Arias - already guilty, made the front page.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Have You No Shame Mr Levin...

juggernaut: noun\ˈjə-gər-ˌnȯt, -ˌnät\  a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path "a political juggernaut"

We are living in Randian times....the United States Senate berates executives from Apple over the US Tax Code.  And the Apple Execs couldn't stand up for themselves as much as Senator Paul did.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nothing to See Here...

. . . W A R N I N G . . . 

And I'm just sayin', but do not confuse the growing number of scandals (really, hasn't this been going
on for four years, Jeremiah Wright, Billy Ayers, Solyndra, etc., etc., etc...) with the AP story:

In AP Surveillance Case, the Real Scandal is What's Legal

The Department of Justice is investigating leaks of privileged, or classified, information by government employees.  Who obtained the leaked information?  The media.  The Associated Press.  One of the first things I would do...would be to subpoena (through a Grand Jury or a court) the phone records of anybody I thought was involved.

This will turn out to be a distraction from Benghazi and the IRS story, which should be the real news.

I like the fact that somebody is paying attention, but note that the story is in reference to the "Department of Justice" and not "the Administration."  If I were a betting man, and I'm not, I would say it was the FBI...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Found Alive...

I know people who worked on this kidnapping case.  I heard the sad stories.  Like most, I assumed the worst.  I don't know if what we now know happened, was 'the worst.'  They are alive, and have a second chance at life.  

I seem to have problem sleeping during big news events.  I awoke last night with the Jimmy-Legs and Jimmy-Arms, and turned on the TV to try to go to sleep listening to Greta Van Susteren...she broke in with the story that Amanda Berry had been found.  I used to have the above poster (minus the "Recovered") at my desk, because I took over the desk from somebody who had helped on the case. I thought it would be bad luck to take it down.  On TV last night, they played the 9-1-1 call, wherein Amanda gave her location.  I didn't immediately recognized the exact location, but they said it was on the Westside of Cleveland.  I spent a lot of time on the Westside of Cleveland on other matters.  

Its hard to imagine being held captive for 10 years.  They refer to them as "women" because they are now adults, but they were young teenagers when they were taken.

Sadly, I spent hours parked one block away.  Wade Avenue is a one-way street between a cemetery and a freeway - fairly hidden.  From that location you can see any vehicle traveling north on the two major thoroughfares, West 25th and Scranton.  This is called a 'choke-point.'  The location of the house where the girls were held is 2 miles from the Federal Courthouse in downtown Cleveland, and a couple blocks away from the house where A Christmas Story was filmed, which is now a small museum.  

The man who did this has an evil soul.  The death penalty would be letting him off easy...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Changed My Mind...

I think.

A few months ago I was talking to a law enforcement officer about axes.  Specifically tomahawks.  Somebody overheard my conversation and asked what I needed with a tomahawk.  I said they are extremely versatile, with many uses.  He asked why I didn't just get a full sized ax.  I told him that I already had one (a REALLY NICE ONE, thanks babe!).  He then said, "Are you one of those survivalists?"  I live in the city, in a cookie-cutter house, and spend a decent portion of my work day at a desk...but yes, I would like to survive.  While a tomahawk would probably come in handy in a survival scenario, I just wanted a smaller ax for camping...and in case the zombies got my full-sized ax....

Then came the real question he wanted to ask.  "Are you an NRA member?" I'm not sure how he made the jump from blades to firearms.

"Yes I am," I answered.


"They are the biggest force out there against those who want to take away a specific part of the Constitution." I knew this was not going to be a lengthy conversation, and wanted to answer as truthfully and succinctly as possible. (Not to mention the guy that I was talking to had taken an oath to defend the Constitution, and had a firearm tucked at the small of his back).

"Are you one of those guys that thinks just anybody should have a gun anytime?" he asked.

"Not anybody."

I suspect that he did not want to get too confrontational, and said, "I just don't think anybody needs an AK-47 or an M-16," with a smile, figuring I would agree.

I sensed it was the end of the conversation.  But instinctively I said, "It is not a matter of needing it, to me, it is a matter of having a right to have it."  I really did not think about what I said, I just responded.  He was talking about fully-automatic weapons.  The kind that have been regulated in America since the 1930s.  Usually I would respond with a statement as such, and include my belief that convicted felons should not be allowed to posses firearms, and people diagnosed with certain medical conditions, etc.  But I didn't.  I just wanted to make the most simple argument.

Last night, I was reading a book about guns in America.  The author was exploring views on gun rights and gun ownership. Late in the book, it introduced Aaron Zelman and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Zelman believed government should not be limiting the rights of gun ownership by free peoples (see Hitler's Germany, Cambodia, China, Guatemala, Rwanda, Ottoman Turkey, Uganda, the Soviet Union, Zimbabwe...).  My kind of guy.  But, of course, not for convicted felons.   Yes, for convicted felons too, government should not be limiting the rights of gun ownership by free peoples.  Convicted felons, he argued, have paid their debt.  They don't lose their first amendment rights forever, why would they lose their second amendment rights forever?  Whoa! Well, because... But that's different... See, they...  As much as I argued in my mind, I realized that I believe that the Constitution guaranteed the right to bear arms, and it did not limit it to non-felons, and mentally stable people, and outside of liquor establishments, etc.  [ Zelman, according to the book I'm reading, did not like to make the 2nd Amendment argument, as he believed this was an inalienable right - from God.  And I agree that is what the founders believed too - but I'll submit to the jurisdiction of the Constitution, as I live under its protection... ]

The Supreme Court has ruled that local entities can limit, and have always been able to limit, to some degree, where people may or may not carry.  But I could foresee another ruling - in which Governments (localities) are further limited, with respect to duration and location, in their ability to limit the right to bear arms.  We've already seen that in Heller and McDonald.

Zelman's argument was basic.  Kind of a mutually-assured-destruction that was based on inalienable rights.  I wonder what he felt about nuclear weapons, and say, Iran.  I will have to research that.

On the issue of convicted felons, without getting too much into the weeds, it is my opinion that our prisons, for large swaths of their populations, are too soft and easy.  Its hard for somebody who does not deal with them, or with the inmates to understand - but its just not much of a punishment for some people.  And parole and probation are a joke in America.  I would submit that those be fixed prior to changing our laws regarding convicted felons.  So, while my basic beliefs regarding the right to bear arms have changed, I will still push for prosecution of a felon-in-possession where I believe it applies.