Friday, July 31, 2009

Veterans Summer Retreat and Skeet Shoot Near Vail CO

U.S. Army Spc. Keith Maul, 21, went skeet-shooting near McCoy, Colo., Thursday. Mr. Maul, who lost an arm and leg in a grenade attack while on patrol near Baghdad in February, was part of a group of wounded vets and their families participating in the Vail Veterans Program summer retreat. (John Moore/Getty Images)
It's great to see wounded Veterans participating in so many outdoor activities---biking, hiking, shooting and downhill skiing. A veteran and good friend of mine from the West Coast is bringing a group of Vets to Jackson to fly fish for 5 days in late September. The guys love the chance to be on the river and never forget their time here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Little Racketeer: How To Get A Hummer...



THIS LITTLE HUMMINGBIRD flew into the place I'm staying this afternoon through an open door. I was calling all 30 Congressmen on my scroll below and suddenly I heard this wild racket buzz the room. Then it got quiet again. When I got off the phone, I looked around to see what was going on, but didn't see anything. All was quiet. So I went back to dialing. Then the racket commenced again. Buzzing, screeching, batting up against the window. I hung up the phone, got up, finally spotting the little bird above that had flown inside and was madly trying to get out through the glass.

After tiring of its efforts, it would stop, sit on the sill and rest for a few seconds before going at the glass again. This kind of thing used to frighten me, cause I was afraid I might hurt or kill it while trying to help it escape. Not anymore. I've learned from several experiences back in Nashville that when a little hummer gets in your house, a broom is your very best friend.

Don't know what it is about straw, but when I get a broom and gently put it nearby, it calms down, hops on (sometimes with a little coaxing), and sits there quietly. At this point, you slowly walk the the bird on the broom outside, flick the end and watch it fly away. Have even seen a little hummingbird sit on the broom straw till I shook it off. That sure wasn't the case today. As soon as I got the hummingbird on the straw and the broom outside, it quickly buzzed away into the wild blue yonder.

After this interlude, I then went back to calling Congress. Let's see 202 225----. I'll be doing it in my sleep.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Calling Blue Dog Dems RE ObamaCare Just Got Easier--- (202) 225-


Jason Altmire (PA) -2565; Mike Arcuri (NY) -3665; John Barrow (GA) -2823; John Boccieri (OH) -3876; Dan Boren (OK) -2701; Allen Boyd (FL) -5235; Bruce Bradley (IA) -2911; Bobby Bright (AL) -2901; Kathy Castor (FL) -3376; Jim Clyburn (SC) -3315; Gerry Connolly (VA) -1492; Jim Cooper (TN) -4311; Lincoln Davis (TN) -6831; Bart Gordon (TN) -4231; John Hall (NY) -5441; Martin Heinrich (NM) -6316; Baron Hill (IN) -5315; Mary Jo Kilroy (OH) - 2015; Ron Kind (WI) - 5506; Dave Loebsack (IA) -6576; Nita Lowey (NY) -6506; Betsy Markey (CO) -4676; Jim Marshall (GA) -6531; Eric Massa (NY) -3161; Jim Matheson (UT) -3011; Mike McMahon (NY) -3371; Charlie Melancon ( LA) -4031; Michael Michaud (ME) -6306; Scott Murphy (NY) -5614; Colin Peterson (MN) -2165; Jared Polis (CO) 2161; Earl Pomeroy (ND) -2611; Mike Ross (AR) -3772; Tim Ryan (OH) -5261; Herseth-Sandlin (SD) -2801; Adam Shiff (CA) -4176; Heath Shuler (NC) -6401; Zack Space (OH) -6265; Bart Stupak (MI) -4735; John Tanner (TN) -4714; Gene Taylor (MS) -5772; Harry Teague (NM) -2365; Dina Titus (NV) - 3252; Tim Walz (MN) -2472.

We can a difference, even as Obama, Emmanuel and Pelosi etc. are trying to ram this bill down Americas' throats---for the sake of 4% of the population---whether we want it or not.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Again, this speaks for itself, but it's a big deal, as it should be.

Commenter Nellie Writes on Former Her TennCare Experience


THIS-- from commenter Nellie--- was in my comments this morning for an earlier post. It comes from a woman who was formerly a patient on TennCare for several years. I want to post it here; it speaks for itself:

"I was a patient on TennCare for several years. It was due to a financial upheavel and a pre-existing condition, and no where else to turn. Let me tell you, it was the worst health care I've ever had in my 67 yrs. on this earth. None of the good doctors would accept it and I was stuck with inferior script writers with overcrowded waiting rooms with only 1 or 2 caucasians in the entire building. Tests were never done on anyone, too expensive we were told. Another script was written, "take this twice a day and you'll feel better."

"Standard line. Oh, and I was paying TennCare $350 a mo. for this crap.I'm glad I lived thru it. Never again!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Krugman VS Free Markets In Health Care


Paul Krugman: There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work.

Don Boudreaux: I can list lots of examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market: the regular, smooth, widespread, and affordable supply of aspirin, bandages, decongestants, toothpaste, dental floss, toothbrushes, contact lenses, running shoes, and gyms. I could go on.

MP: And how about Lasik eye surgery (costs a third today of what it did 10 years ago), low-cost convenient retail health clinics (1,200 in the U.S. and growing), cosmetic surgery (stable prices despite a 6X increase in demand since early 1990s), medical tourism around the world, $10 prescription drugs at Wal-Mart for a 90-day supply of 300 different generic prescriptions, the No Insurance Club, medical savings accounts, etc.

H/T Carpe Diem

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Matt Taibbi's Piece on Goldman Sachs---The Great American Bubble Machine--- in July's Rolling Stone Is One Helluva, Helluva Read


IT'S BEEN ALMOST four weeks since a very smart money man emailed me a copy (in pdf format) of Matt Taibbi's panoramic piece in Rolling Stone on Goldman Sachs. It came with a terse message, you gotta to read this. I was packing the car to drive West and didn't really have a lot of reading time budgeted in my schedule. Still, when he says read something, I listen.

The Great American Bubble Machine was just "rolling" steaming hot off the presses and the hedge fund guys in New York were going absolutely bonkers. The pdf---such as it was---was spreading over the Internet like wildfire.

Late that night, I sat down and struggled to read the worst copy I'd ever seen, attempting to follow the text on my computer. I finally read enough to know one thing: I was running out early the next morning before leaving and buy a hard copy of a magazine I hadn't bought, seen or read in decades.

I tossed it in the front seat of my car and began reading it in bits and pieces as I rolled across Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado. Every time I stopped for coffee, gas, or at a rest stop I consumed first one, then another American bubble. Then I'd think about it for several hundred miles and read more, since it was far too intense for me to digest all at once. I read, and re-read, stunned, as bubbles inflated and popped like flies being swatted down from a window will. By the time I got to Denver, I called my money man to thank him. It's an unbelievable story, I told him.

Much of it's true, he reiterated. Believe me, he oughtta know....but I won't reveal any more than that right now.

I knew from past readings much of the piece was credible. However I also thought Taibbi had such an attitude that some of it would surely be discredited. He was a loud-mouth liberal and I hated it that I loved his ultra-sophisticated piece so much. He could never have gotten it published in Forbes or Fortune because it war far too profane. Still, extremely well-written and researched, I had to hand it to him.

As I laid over in Colorado for a week, visiting friends, all I wanted to do was talk about this article. I was obsessed (I'll tell you why in a later piece). I gave a copy to David H., a good friend, conservation colleague and water lawyer in Boulder. He stayed up late that night and consumed it. The next morning, he told me he was deeply troubled and disturbed by it. ( More on why later.) Then I visited friends Steve and Peggy in Grand Junction. Steve had read some of Taibbi's work and so dug into this hard copy I brought with me with gusto. He knew much of it already but admitted his mind was blown too. We talked about it for several days. We agreed it was shocking, to say the very least.

I ended up calling a number of friends, family and colleagues to recommend they read this piece. I called one of my US Senators on his cell phone----You of all people have got to read this, was all I said.

I've wanted to write about it for weeks, but haven't for several reasons: First I've been traveling and very busy along the way. More importantly, this piece is a complex, technical piece of financial reconnoitering and reporting, and commenting on it bears a great deal of thought and research. It's above my pay grade, actually.

Still it continues to gnaw on me for reasons that I hope to reveal. So as I can this week, in between everything else, I hope to scratch out enough time to write about i It's truly one of the most interesting, fascinating, disturbing articles that's come out in a long, long time.

The article in it's entirety is here. Be forewarned, it's not easy reading and bears re-reading slowly over time. But worth it. I'm still not over it and will tell you why. Just not tonight. And tomorrow I go on a fishing in Idaho. But I'll be back, God willing soon. So if you have some time, then sit back and get to reading. You'll never be the same. I know I won't.


EXCERPT/TEASER from The Great American BUBBLE Machine:

From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression---and they're about to do it again

---by Matt Taibbi

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled-dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

(OK, this is a bit over-the-top and dramatic, and I don't agree that Goldman actually "engineered" each of these bubbles, so much as they saw it coming and positioned themselves ahead of the curve, as all smart money does, but read on, gentle gets better.)

By now, most of us know the major players. As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, form Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup---which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the asshole chief of Merrill Lynch who bought a $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multi-billion dollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company. And Robert Steel, the former Goldmanite head of Wachovia, scored himself and his fellow executives $225 million in golden parachute payments as his bank was self-destructing......

Read more.

1456: Johann Gutenberg Produces the First Printed Bible

DURING THE MIDDLE AGES, few people owned Bibles or books of any kind. Monks copied texts by hand, on papyrus sheets or parchment made of animal skins. The cost of both materials and the copyists' time lay far beyond the average man's resources---even assuming the book he might want was available.

Not many people could read their own language, and many books---the Bible included---were available only in Latin, a language even fewer understood. The average person relied on the local priest and pictures or statues in the church for information on the Bible. Often the local priest had little or no training in Latin, and his knowledge of the Bible was quite minimal. Though scholars debated Scripture and wrote commentaries, their thoughts had a hard time trickling down to the average Christian.

One of the great changes of the fifteenth century had a heavy impact on this state of affairs. In the 1440s Johann Gutenberg experimented with movable pieces of metal type. By setting books in lead type, he could make many copies, at a fraction of the cost of a hand-copied text.

In 1456, Gutenberg---or a group of which he was a part---printed 200 copies of Jerome's Vulgate Bible. The common man could not yet understand God's Word, but it was the first step in a mighty revolution.

For a while the printers of Mainz kept Gutenberg's techniques a trade secret, but by 1483, when Martin Luther was born, every large European country had at least one printing press. Within fifty years of Gutenberg's first printing the Bible, printers had out-produced centuries of monks. Books had become available in numerous languages, and literacy had increased.

Without Gutenberg's invention, perhaps the goals of the reformation would have taken longer to be achieved. As long as only the clergy could read God's World and compare it to church teachings, it had a limited impact on the common Christian.

With the invention of the printing press, Luther and other reformers could make God's Word available to "every plowboy and serving maid." Luther translated the Scriptures into a vigorous, readable German version that was used for centuries. No longer did a priest, pope, or council stand between the believer and his comprehension of the Bible. Though many had claimed the average man could not understand God's Word and needed it interpreted by churchmen, Germans began to do just that.

As they read, these ordinary men and women began to feel part of the Bible's dramatic world. Household training in the faith became possible. Slowly the boundary between pastor and parishioner broke down. instead of worrying, "What will I have to confess to a priest?" the believer could ask, "Is my life in keeping with the Bible?"

With the invention of a complex printing tool, a fire was lit across Europe---one that spread both the Gospel and literary.

----Curtis, Lang and Petersen The Hundred Most Important Events in Christian History

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Evenings In the Shadows of The Grand

I SUPPOSE if I could change anything about my very fortunate and blessed life, it would be to have friends/family to play indoor and outdoor games at least three or four nights a week. There's nothing like getting the game boards out after early dinner and starting a couple of rounds of something fun. Tonight it was Blokus---the first time I've ever played. Terrific fun even though the hostess and my good friend (above) had the very poor taste to mostly win both games. Ay well, there's always MONDAY night.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Facts on Health Care Reform Verses Obama's Promises




• More than 88 million Americans could lose their employer-based health coverage as businesses switch to the new taxpayer-subsidized public option that will compete with private insurers for enrollment. Doesn't this refute the claim that we can keep our current coverage?

• Yearly premiums for Americans with private coverage could rise as much as $460 per person as a result of the cost-shifting that would result from the public option. How does this jibe with the claim that costs will be lower?

• Physicians' net income would fall by 6.3%, or an average of $18,900 per doctor, as a result of lower reimbursements under the public option and higher practice expenses associated with providing services to the newly insured.

If this results in fewer doctors, what does it mean for the promise of better care, especially when 47 million more people are gaining access to the system?

These questions and many others demand answers from the president — in or out of press conferences — as well as Congress before this legislation gets any further. Because all we're being told now is that if we cede control to Washington, we'll get better care for more people at lower costs, and these claims just don't add up.

From IBD editorials, Friday

To repeat: Below are Blue Dog Dems who are opposed to Obama's reform. We need to keep the heat on them:

Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.) (202) 225-2823
Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4231
Baron Hill (D-Ind.) (202) 225-5315
Jim Matheson (D-Utah) (202) 225-3011
Charlie Melancon (D-La.) (202) 225-4031
Mike Ross (D-Ark.) (202) 225-3772
Zack Space (D-Ohio) (202) 225-6265
Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4311
Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-6831
John Tanner (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4714

Ron Paul Unloads Reality on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in Congressional Hearings This Week

NEXT TIME, RON, tell Ben what you really think. Don't hold back.

Nothin from nothin leaves nothing. Right, Billy P?

Make A Call, Make a Difference

I'M SAYING IT, Michelle Malkin's saying it, we all know it: Make those calls to Congress; it is making a difference. So in all my allotted time here for Webutante, I'm going to use it to make calls to Congressmen. Hope you will too. Am bringing that image of Congress to the top of my sidebar so every representative and senator's number will be easy to find. Just click the image and then the state. And be glad you're doing what you can to prevent a true nightmare for this country.

Some Blue Dog Dems who are leaning towards opposing Obama's plan. I'll update the list as I can:
Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.) (202) 225-2823
Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4231
Baron Hill (D-Ind.) (202) 225-5315
Jim Matheson (D-Utah) (202) 225-3011
Charlie Melancon (D-La.) (202) 225-4031
Mike Ross (D-Ark.) (202) 225-3772
Zack Space (D-Ohio) (202) 225-6265
Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4311
Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-6831
John Tanner (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4714

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GOP Rep. Dr. Tom Price on Obama's Wednesday Presser


From Republican Study Committee Chairman, Congressman and Dr. Tom Price (R-GA)
(202) 225-4501

Rep. Marsha Blackburn: Lessons From TennCare on its Failed Universal, Single Pay System That Almost Bankrupted Tennessee


TENNESSEE WAS HOME TO A FAILED attempt at universal single payer care, and has lessons to teach a President who has promised that in pursuing his goal of universal health care, he will learn from the policy failures of the past.

In 1994 Tennessee implemented managed care in its Medicaid program, creating a system known as TennCare. The objective was to use the anticipated savings from Medicaid to fund and expand coverage for children and the uninsured. The result was a program that nearly bankrupted the state, reduced the quality of care, and collapsed under its own weight.

The genesis of TennCare has many parallels to the situation in which we find ourselves today. It was a public option plan designed to save money and expand coverage. In the early 1990s, Tennessee was facing rising costs in its Medicaid program. TennCare was designed to replace Mediaid with managed care and use the promised savings to expand coverage. By 1998, TennCare swelled to cover 1.2 million people. Private business dropped coverage for employees and forced them onto state rolls. By 2002 enrollment had swelled to 1.4 million people and forced Tennessee's Governor to raise taxes and ultimately propose an entirely new state income tax to cover the unforeseen costs.

Governor Bredesen was ultimately forced to dramatically restructure a program he has since called "a disaster". By 2006 Bredesen had disenrolled nearly 200,000 people and slashed benefits.

TennCare lessons challenge the Administration's thinking on the benefits of a "public option" solution to assuring American's have the care they deserve. As a Tennessee doctor who provided care under TennCare and a state legislator who had to find ways for the state to pay for it, we learned these lessons the hard way. They shaped the way we both approach health care policy.

With Democrats promising to pass a similar system in the House by August, those lessons are worth sharing with the country now.

"Free" Care Is Expensive: No matter how forthright the Administration's cost estimates are; no model accounts for the rational decisions that push people to over-utilize the "free care" a public option offers.

TennCare's gold plated coverage included every doctor's appointment and prescription. As such, patients with a cold opted to charge the state hundreds of dollars for doctor visits and medicine instead of paying $5 out of pocket for over-the-counter cold medicine. Over-use caused TennCare's anticipated savings to evaporate and its cost to explode.

While TennCare consistently covered between 1.2 and 1.4 million people; costs increased from $2.5 billion in 1995 to $8 billion by the time of TennCare's restructuring. It consumed a third of the state budget including nearly all state revenue growth. When the illusion of "free" care is fostered, it is always over-utilized.

Employers Prefer "Free" Care to Private Care: If the government offers universal health care, why wouldn't businesses move employees to the plan as a sound business decision? In Tennessee, this behavior dramatically expanded the public burden as people who had once been on private insurance migrated to the "free" option of public care, adding to the State's unanticipated cost. Studies indicate that only 55% of those added to TennCare came from the uninsured population, while the rest came from a decline in private coverage.

There Is a Difference Between Access To Care and Availability Of Care: Government-run health care advocates must overpromise on benefits to gain support for their plan, only to renege on those promises when the bill comes due. It's a classic bait-and-switch. To pay the TennCare bill, benefits were slashed and reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals were reduced.

Ultimately, 170,000 people were cut from the program. Since they weren't being paid; fewer physicians could afford to accept TennCare patients. So while a TennCare card guaranteed you access to care, it did not guarantee the availability of care.


Government Control Puts More People In The Exam Room Than Just You And Your Doctor: Because government health care can only provide what it can afford, a determination of cost-effective care becomes more important than doctor-recommended care. Doctors become intermediaries between the government and patients, only able to offer suggestions on treatment. Tennessee physicians often spent more time arguing with government bureaucrats over care than they did providing it to their patients.

Other actors soon inserted themselves into the process, including (predatory) trial lawyers and advocacy groups who stepped in to sue the state. Efforts to rationalize the program, pay doctors, and heal the sick became frustrated by repeated consent decrees and lawsuits that turned the system into a bureaucratic morass that itself could not be healed.

President's new health care czar was a critical link in the TennCare story. Serving as Human Services Commissioner in Tennessee and then as a key health staffer in the Clinton Administration, Nancy DeParle should be well aware of Tennessee's health care saga. We hope that she lists the kind of universal care that TennCare embodied in the "don't try again" column.

We want to provide access to affordable basic health care for all Americans, and we're actively seeking a solution to do this. But creating a plan like TennCare is not the right answer. We understand the magnitude of the task ahead and we are dedicated to this debate and seeing reform come to our health care system.

Blackburn and Roe are Republicans representing Tennessee in the House of Representatives.

Let's See, Choices, Choices....

...but do we poor taxpayers have any say with this runaway drunken spending binge Congress is having, under Madam Pelosi?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health Care Myths Verses Reality


AS CONGRESS---with its bullet-proof majority Houses--- rushes to shove us over the radical abyss of government controlled health care reform from cradle to grave, we learn that even President Obama doesn't know what's in the current 1018-page House bill (also called the Kennedy bill). If that's not bad enough, most of us have little idea all the ramifications it entails, except---and here's good news-- many of us both on the left and right are starting to get very queasy over what we sense is an unsustainable sky high price tag that will take this country towards long-term insolvency and bankruptcy.

Making matters worse, Obama is taking his PR machine and teleprompter on the road this week to hard sell this nebulous far-reaching plan to us, the American people. To do it, he must rely on myths and half-truths which he hopes we're too busy, preoccupied or relaxed to fact check and determine aren't real.
I'd like juxtapose some of the Obama administration's myths against hard reality that clearly disputes the president's claims:


MAIN REALITY: It's simply not true and a straw man of unheralded proportions. After all the numbers are sifted, only 12 million (less than 4%) of a total US population of 305 million cannot afford insurance today. Another 20 million (6.5%)---mostly singles under 35---are without insurance who CAN afford it but won't buy it for various reasons.
For this we need to nationalize 17% of our nation's $14 trillion economy and change the current care that 89% of us like?

Let's look at the numbers breakdown:

US population today: 305 million
Number and percentage with insurance: 258 million (85%)
Number happy with current health care plans: 271 million (or 89%!)

Number of uninsured: 47 million (15%)
Number of the 47 million uninsured who CAN afford insurance but won't buy: 20 million (6.5%)
Number of uninsured who can not afford insurance: 27 million (8.9%) mostly single, under 35
Number of uninsured ILLEGAL immigrants: 15 million (4.9%)

With these numbers confirmed, IBD concluded in a recent editorial:

When it's all whittled down, as few as 12 million of US citizens are unable to buy insurance — which is less than 4% of a population of 305 million.

For this we need to nationalize 17% of our nation's $14 trillion economy and change the current care that 89% like?

In the end, for Obama to be successful in getting this radical, socialistic bill through Congress, he will have to foist the false idea of a national crisis on the American people and we will have to buy it hook, line and sinker.

No thanks, I'm not biting.

Tomorrow, I'll take on the next myth Obama needs us to fall for. That includes the whopping 89% of all Americans who are happy with their health care plans and care.

Real Wyoming Wants A Word With Us....

IT'S RARE I actually see a car or truck I want to stand near and wait to see who comes back to drive it. Today was the exception. As I came out of Jackson Whole Grocer (not Whole Foods Market) I was sorely tempted. When I saw this truck with dried mud all over it, and that great bumper sticker, I stood there waiting, hoping the man would return to his truck--- it has be a man who's driving this Dodge Ram. Alas, he didn't return and I had to run. But I love the man who parked the truck that had the sticker that said the truth that America is waking up to hopefully just in the nick of time before it's too late and we give away all our freedoms to runaway spending and big federal bureaucracy.

To save ourselves from Obama, Pelosi and company, we'd better be willing to get our hands dirty and our trucks real muddy. If we don't, we're in a heap of trouble.

MEANWHILE, the real Mayo Clinic wants to have a word with President Obama. It thinks his healthcare plan is real bad medicine.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In Health Care Reform, Do Blue Dog Democrats Have Any Bite?

THEY MAY BE BARKING loudly now but Michelle Malkin wonders if they---more fiscal conservative Blue Dog Democrats--- have any bite when it comes to stopping the monstrosity of Obama's health care reform? Or will they end up making deals for their pet projects in return for acquiescence?

Here are some of the Blue Dogs and their D.C. phone numbers. Our calls do make a difference:

Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.) (202) 225-2823
Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4231
Baron Hill (D-Ind.) (202) 225-5315
Jim Matheson (D-Utah) (202) 225-3011
Charlie Melancon (D-La.) (202) 225-4031
Mike Ross (D-Ark.) (202) 225-3772
Zack Space (D-Ohio) (202) 225-6265
Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4311
Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-6831
John Tanner (D-Tenn.) (202) 225-4714

Michelle concludes, Our calls to members of Congress and our hometown protests can and have made a difference. Look:

Pelosi cut deal after deal with individual lawmakers to squeak the bill out of committee and to the floor. Then lawmakers flew home and had to battle criticism from voters at the same time Republicans were saying Democrats passed an “energy tax.”

“They went home and got beat up about energy,” said a senior aide to a Blue Dog lawmaker. “Now you’re going to jam health care down their throat and send them home for a month?”

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-LA (202) 225-2031, talks about interesting developments in Congressional health care battle. See article and video.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen Former Healthcare Executive Voices Concerns Over ObamaCare

GOVERNOR PHIL BREDESEN, a Tennessee Democrat, said he feared Congress was about to bestow “the mother of all unfunded mandates.’’

“Medicaid is a poor vehicle for expanding coverage,’’ said Bredesen, a former healthcare executive. “It’s a 45-year-old system originally designed for poor women and their children. It’s not healthcare reform to dump more money into Medicaid."

He ought to know since he's spent a huge portion of his administration attempting to get the state solvent after the TennCare fiasco that started 20 years ago and nearly bankrupted the state.

Then Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico said he was very concerned about the cost issue, particularly the $1 trillion figures being batted around."

Obama's Idea of Health-Care "Reform" Reminds Me of Forced Feeding

I WANT TO HIT Obama's socialist health care reform bill hard over the next few weeks because I think it has the potential to change America in the most destructive and ruinous ways possible. But first, in the spirit of one image being worth a thousand words, this is what our new administration's proposal reminds me of. It's not pretty. Watch only if you dare.
Will we let this forced feeding by the federal government and its bureaucracy happen? Will we allow government to tell us what's best for us for the sake of a small number of people---some legal and others illegal--who can be better served in a myriad of other ways? I hope to God not. I hope we'll make such a racket and register such opposition that IT, and Obama go down in flames.

This isn't just about health care. It's about the government hijacking, taking over and regulating a huge sector of our private lives from birth to death and everything in between. It's also about a price tag that is unsustainable in the medium and long run, a price tag that will bankrupt our already bankrupt country.

We need to call every Congressman and Senator over the next few weeks and register our lack of support, to put it mildly. And keep doing it. Contact info for every last one of them are on my sidebar. Just click the image of Congress, the directory comes up as a map, then click the state or states you're looking for.

The administration wants to ram (Rahm) this through again quickly before Congress' summer recess and while people are relaxed at the beach.

If we let this get by, we deserve what we will get.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kyle Smith: Taking J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter to Task At the Post


FINALLY SOMEONE TELLS it like it is when it comes to Harry Potter the squirt hero of J.K. Rowling's fabulously successful series. Kyle Smith does the honors today at the NY Post saying,

....her writing is dreary, her jokes terrible, her characterizations mostly one-dimensional (the Dursleys are swine, Slughorn a suckup, Hermione a teacher's pet, Dumbledore the wise old font of plot exposition). And Harry might be the blandest superhero ever conceived. He simply follows the trail, learns the spells and saves the day. Kids love to be in Harry's shoes: all zapping bad guys, no taking out the trash...

And that's just for starters. Then she tells us what she really thinks. Smith asks if there's any author anywhere more dismissive of morals than J.K. Rowling?

A Rowling kid starts learning at an early age that principles are adjustable depending on convenience.

Rowling ignores ethics to the point of encouraging dishonorable behavior. Harry spends "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" -- the film version of which is raking it in this weekend -- cheating out of a textbook that has all the answers written in the margins, causing him to fraudulently win a luck potion that he uses to solve the central mystery. And his punishment for this is . . . nothing.

Harry's taking advantage of the annotated textbook is depicted as simple resourcefulness.

Compare Luke Skywalker, who has to conquer his own vanity, laziness and anger in order to earn his place. Harry, like many of his generation, is the Cosseted One from an early age. He's told that he's special, that he's got awesome gifts, that those who don't understand this are blind to the plain facts. Deploying his powers involves no more character or soul-searching than following a recipe....

Read the Kyle Smith's entire review then think twice about taking your family and children to line more of J.K's fleece pockets with your hard-earned money. Harry has never intrigued me in the least nor his antics so I'll save my pennies for a real movie of substance soon.

Sunday, There's Treasure Everywhere

From Tim Challis last week:

I’ve always loved Calvin & Hobbes. My friend Brian first introduced me to the comic strip back when I was a young teen and I immediately fell in love with it. (Here is a must-have for any true fan: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes). The strip works on at least two levels. There is the philosophical level where Calvin and his tiger discuss topics of science, philosophy and religion that are clearly far beyond the grasp of a six-year old mind. Yet they reflect the questions most people wrestle with during their lives. And then there is the more realistic level, where Calvin is just a young boy doing what boys do: learning to ride a bike, going to school, imaging himself as a superhero or astronaut, building snow forts, fighting with girls, and digging for treasure. Every young boy is convinced that there’s treasure everywhere. Any boy with a strong imagination will realize that there truly is treasure everywhere.

Then Tim continues on how he sees theology everywhere,

The more I have thought about different topics, the more I’ve realized there is theology everywhere. And this is what motivates me to write; it’s what motivates me to read and to think and to explore. Everywhere I turn I see theology, whether in a book about the atoning work of Jesus Christ or in a book about the future of business or in a biography of a man who lives half a world away. Sometimes the theology is lying on the surface, exposed and easy to see. Sometimes it is hidden within and just needs to be coaxed out. But always there is something to think about, something to wrestle with, something to help me think deeply about how Christians are to live in this world.

Everything I read seems to provide some starting point for deeper reflection.


I whole-heartedly agree that everything we read, see and experience can be grist for our deeper reflection mills. There's always greater meaning to all our life's experiences, if we let it in. I reflect on the deeper meaning of my grizzly encounter Friday and try to think about it in symbolic terms. When I do, a myriad of lessons begin to surface for me: Calling on the name of the Lord, standing one's ground, not panicking or going into your reptilian brain if possible, facing your worst fears and on and on.

I reflect on whether some other symbolic grizzly bear is retreating/is going away from my spiritual life? And it's all treasure to be unearthed for my spiritual journey. Sometimes these reflections bring quick answers and other times I have to wait for them to bubble up to the surface of my life.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My (Fortunate, Humbling) Grizzly Encounter On An Early Morning Training Hike Friday

UPDATE: Went back up the trail Saturday with bear spray, though not so far back into the wilderness. Good to go back after yesterday's a scare. Ran into this man on horseback. We mercifully didn't talk politics, finance, healthcare or the bailout, just traded a few grizzly tales as we went in very, very, very opposite directions. Still we both love our secret valley.
I SAY FORTUNATE FOR TWO REASONS: First it goes without saying, grizzlies are the most awesome, spectacular, large and feared creatures in North America---with the exception of their first cousins up north. But never mind, they're at the top of every food chain regardless of race, color, creed, gender, politics or ecosystem. Anyone who dares forget this, does so to his or her detriment.

Second, because I mercifully live to tell the story of my early morning sprint/hike where I came face-to-face with a full-grown red/brown grizzly in the wild. Just him and me---okay, he and I to be grammatically precise. As fate would have it, it was the first (and last!) hike I've done this summer since arriving without taking my industrial strength bear spray. Very unwise on my part.

I won't belabor my story since I'm tired and have time constraints, but will tell you what I did that brought the best possible outcome. Still in the end it's always, always by the Grace of God that we live to tell such tales. I take nothing for granted in this wild, vast wilderness country called the Bridger-Teton.

One reason I come here in summers is to get into high-altitude shape. (It's not just fishing!)Even six weeks of strong aerobic exercise here expands my lung capacity for the rest of my year in low-altitude. So most mornings, even when I've got another hike or fishing trip scheduled, I do a rigorous hill climb. I like to find the biggest hill/mountain trail that involves a minimum amount of driving. This summer I found a new trail that meets the criteria and have pounded the dirt up and down almost everyday. I love it for the workout in a short period of time.

This morning, after a long drive back from Ennis yesterday, I hit the trail hard. When I parked my car and got myself together, I decided I'd leave all my excess weight---my pack, industrial strength bear spray, even water---behind so I could move up the trail faster. Wanted to travel light and lithe. Up I went, loving the panting I was putting myself through.

Got to the top in record time and decided to do more to push the limit of my endurance further. So I took on a new, unknown trail back further into the woods, up another ridge, back then down. I was in new territory for sure and felt totally energized and grateful to feel so pumped.

At some point I decided not to back track, but rather take another horse trail back in the general direction from which I came. The trail curved, then dropped down into a shady, cool valley. As I rocketed downhill on the path, I looked ahead and suddenly saw a bear ahead of me at the bottom. First his unmistakable reddish brown hump, then his full body.

I stopped dead in my tracks about fifty feet away from it. I've seen enough grizzlies and black bears in the wild over the years, to know immediately this was a big grizzly.

Suddenly, here we were, I without a gun, pepper spray, horse or companion--virtually defenseless, so to speak. In a situation like this, there's nothing to do but stop. Wait.....Pray.

Lord, have mercy on me.

The bear turned to look at me, then stood up on his hind legs to get a better view.

I stopped frozen in my tracks, not daring to move for fear my running away might trigger a chase reaction in him---a bear's natural response to a fleeing animal.

I stood my ground there and held my breath.

For several (5-10) seconds, the grizzly looked at me, obviously trying to decide what I was. As he looked, I raised both arms high over my head to appear taller. Then I started chanting at the top of my lungs at him, HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!

He watched, twitched and fell back down on all fours. He was about to make his move. I held my breath, not knowing which direction he would run---towards me or away. I glanced around for a tree to climb. Dear God help me, I muttered. Help me find a tree!

Then. Then. Then... that big grizzly did exactly what he should have done.

He behaved like any mature, self-respecting wild animal should do in the wilderness---where hunters come in fall/winter to shoot deer, elk, bear with big, powerful guns. He saw me and got scared. Then he turned away and began to lumber off in the opposite direction.

My sigh of relief was palpable for miles.

Slowly at first, as if hesitating, the bear merely started to saunter away. But the minute I saw he was retreating and I was having an impact on him, I stepped up my yelling and began clapping my hands loudly. Hearing the additional racket, the grizzly started to run. I took several steps forward on the trail in his direction, making such noise that he picked up his speed to a full gallop----these beasts can cantor incredibly fast. It's awesome to watch, as long as the grizzly's running away-- not towards-- you.

Within half minute, I watched the grizzly speed-run up a high hill and disappear. I continued making noises, then found a large stick and lugged it with me as I started off in another direction, cross country. I eventually hiked back over two ridges, down a ravine and back up to my original trail, watching my back, every. step. of. the. way.

On a humorous note, as I back tracked, I continued to make noises so that anything in my path knew I was there and could run. At one point high on a ridge, I spooked a female deer below that came exploding out of some cover when she heard me. She panicked and ran wildly to and fro until she got her bearings. I'm sure she had no idea what in heaven's name was coming over that ridge making those wild and crazy sounds she'd never heard before. Come to think of it, I was making noises I'd never heard before (The sound of, Get me outta here and fast!)!

Needless to say I was and am extremely grateful for this happy outcome and gave thanks along the way back. It's the last time I'll ever push my luck and do a workout without my heavy-duty pepper spray canister--no matter how much it weighs. Not that a spray could or would always save you in a grizzly encounter, but it could help. Nevertheless, I'm humbled by such an event and will avoid the extension of this trail until I'm on horseback or with a larger group of people.

Have had a long, busy week and need to rest. Will be near much faster wireless starting Sunday when I move closer to town. Till then, have a great weekend! God bless.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ennis: And a River Runs Through It

John Tamny: Basic Economic Lessons From Las Vegas featuring "Bugsy" Siegel
IN ENNIS, LOOKING out at this very scene from every window and door. The sound is mesmerizing. A living river runs through all our lives, yet it remains to be seen whether we get on it. Are we ever willing to see the river for the stream?

Another thing, Yellowstone NP is wonderful, and the most interesting geological spot in the world, yet, if I had to drive through there again---with construction delays, wildlife, bikers, people going 20 mph in front of people wanting to go 50, RVs, winding roads, steep drop-offs, and frequent stop and gos, I'd rather not travel.

Will go 75 miles out of my way tomorrow to avoid going back through YNP. Toughest driving in the world. Going back there reminds me why, after many, many years of wall-to-wall company, I told house guests they would have to go to YNP on their own!

Life in the Slow Lane Just Gets Faster

DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS---maybe long days coupled with a short summer season---though nights are still very chilly---but life here, even at the edge of the wilderness soon becomes non-stop. Don't know how it happens. I arrive with a deliciously empty schedule, at least for a few days, and collapse into the wind and silence. Then without fail, balls start coming from all directions and I begin juggling them. They're all wonderful balls too. So many good people, places and things and what seems like so little time.

Now trying to get away to Ennis, Montanta for the day and night to meet one of my best girl friends, Edie, at her new fishing cabin on the Madison. A chance to get in some girl time before the summer gets away from us. She promises me wireless which is very spotty where I am. So I'll try to do a little photo blogging up through Yellowstone and into West Yellowstone, then north this afternoon. Hope to be in better touch later. And will be next week, when I move closer to town.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Nothing Like Cooking With Gas and Living/Eating Simply

BEFORE COMING to Wyoming a number of years ago, I'd never cooked with gas and propane and was scared to death of it. Today I love it more than anything. It's the best. For the first two weeks here I live in a simple little cabin and lay low for a while getting adjusted to the altitude and different climate. The nearest decent grocery is 40 miles away. Nothing like eating simply cooked food like brown rice and lentils., cooked on my little four burner propane stove with oven. Here is a pic-recipe of the lentil dish I fixed, shared and ate on for several days. Above starting with onions, celery, some Roma tomatoes and olive oil. But you can use anything you have in the frig (garlic, peppers).
Finished lentils served over brown rice with cooked kale or greens and a salad. Adding raw lentils to sauteed onions etc. Takes a little longer to cook in higher altitude. Had to keep adding water along the way. Also added a top to the pot while it simmered. There's nothing like cooking with gas! And the warm lentil stew is wonderful on these chilly nights that are still down in the lower fifties and upper forties. Surely a meal to say abundant Grace over.

What I didn't have that would have been wonderful is some really good all-natural, low-sodium local sausage---like elk or bison--to slice, sautee and add to the lentils at the end. Next time, I'll be sure to put it on my list.

Difference Between the Private Sector and the Government Vector

THERE SEEMS to be a bottom line when it comes to the private verses public sectors in many aspects of our post-modern lives. The private is more flexible, lithe and fluid while the government wants to cast everything into controllable concrete. One is full of happy and sad surprises, personal responsibility and change while the other labors under dowdy laboriousness, standardization and equality of results all while taking itself far too seriously. One interests me greatly while the other bores the stew outta me. You know which is which.

If nothing else, socialism would bore many of us to death. So there's less chance of it than in the olden days before the Internet. Obama and Rahm Emmanuel send cold, dark, stark concrete-like shivers through my body and soul.

Clarification On Comments Here

SATURDAY, I did a piece on Sarah Palin and in no time flat I and my liberal commenters were off to the races. I appreciate fellow blogger mRed at Invincible Armor jumping in with me because it got heated very fast. There were several comments with personal attacks that I didn't post and several more I erased. One intrepid commenter declared herself outta here for good. I certainly respect anyone's decision not to come back for good reason or no reason at all.

However, I want to take this time to outline what's acceptable and what's not in the comments section here. If I haven't made it crystal clear before, I am now:

First I've noticed three trends over the past three years of blogging:

1. Observation: Liberal readers/commenters often tend to take everything personally even when it's said in general and not personally at all.

Take for example the statement Saturday I made to the effect, "Believe me, vienna, I do indeed think there are liberal elements in this country who would like to take down every one of the principles on which this country was founded."

Fairly general and a true statement on my part. I said what I meant and meant what I said. What I didn't say was who some of these radicals are (Saul Alinsky, Ward Churchill, Al Gore with his one world governance nonesense, Paul Krugman, George Clooney and Barbwa Streisand only to name a very few). I assumed most readers knew who and what I was referring to.

I was then met in my comments with a long detailed note from her saying she'd reached the end of her rope commenting here (Didn't she say that two years ago before leaving and then coming back?) She was personally insulted and now she just cann't possibly keep coming over here week after week to comment (or insult me) anymore.

How dare I make such a statement condemning her personal patriotism: Why, after all she's a Cub Scout leader and her husband is in the military! ( statements like this have gone on here for several years though they rarely get published.)

Again, I started Webutante because I'm a recovering liberal who loved my country also....and I even taught Sunday school back in those olden days of my liberalism and did all sorts of patriotic things, even winning awards and silly stuff like that. Still later I discovered that as a liberal, I had been complicit for years/ decades in accepting a liberal agenda that I never bothered to understand or comprehend the effects of. One day I---patriot I thought I was--woke up and realized I'd better start paying better attention to what's going on.

Let me repeat what I just said: I and others can be patriotic as hell and do all the right stuff and still participate in the downward slide of our country by complicitly accepting ridiculous notions we know little or nothing about the effects of---because it just sounds like a good idea. It's easy for us to get swept up in the emotion of man-made global warming etc. without really knowing what effects a government policy based on such a foregone conclusion will have on us for generations.

1) Suggestion: Don't take everything personally. But if the shoe fits, you're welcome to wear it, although it's none of my business; otherwise take what you want and leave the rest. And if all else fails, you're always free to leave.

2) Observation: Liberal commenters don't just take things uber-personally, they respond by attacking their opponents personally, and more often than not, it's very inappropriate and highly presumptuous.

When something I've said evokes personal attacks from others to me like: a) "You need psychiatric help IMMEDIATELY!" b) "You're lucky to have so many liberals in your family however it remains to be seen whether they're lucky to have you...." I'm left scratching my head and wondering what if I said these kinds of things to them? Not only are they off-topic and a distraction to the subject at hand, they're arrogant and highly presumptuous. These people take great liberties as guests on this blog. If I've allowed this in the past, then it's ending now.

Additionally, I can tell you one thing from this: I know in a very, very, very small way what Sarah Palin has had to endure on a monumentally greater basis from her detractors this past year. And much of it is viscous, mean and wildly uncalled for.

2) Suggestion: If you want to get personal here, get personal about yourself---like Stacie did on the post below. However, I don't need you to tell me what I need/don't need/how sick//unfortunate I am. Any further comments that take inappropriate liberties here will not be read and certainly not published. Comments are desirable when they further the conversation and inspire, otherwise they're a waste of time to read and write.

Manners are't optional.

3) Observation: I notice a wide preponderance of globalizing simple statements people make thus making them into something totally different than what is said or meant (also, see #1).

Ellen, my liberal commenter reminded us, then globalized, generalized and insulted. Watch. Ellen commented:

Do you recall Palin saying 'real America' is not in the cities or suburbs, it is in the "small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America."

It's pretty clear who not a 'real American'... anyone with an education. The educated are the elite that the right disdain. The same right wingers that idolize football players and nascar drivers have no respect for education, intellectualism, science, or fine art.

Huh? We conservatives disdain education? Fine art? Science? Idolize football players----are you kidding me?---This is so silly as not even to merit a response.

All that may be pretty clear to you, Ellen, but it certainly isn't to me and many others.

As I pointed out earlier, Sarah Palin is applauding the values of small-town America. Nothing more or less was said by her. She said nothing about education, science, the arts, football or NASCAR.

This kind of mythical inference will no longer be published here. It's a rant that leaves the rails of reality quickly and never comes back. This is a typical tactic of the attack-left--ascribing to others things that are never said and deducing what was never meant---and it will no longer be tolerated here.

3) Suggestion: Stick with reality in commenting, and leave the wild flights-of-fancy to post on someone else's blog. They won't get published here.

I hope I've made myself clear. I welcome comments here always that are on topic, courteous, humorous, personal in that they're about you or your principles and experience. Otherwise, the door is always at the delete button.

Best wishes and thank you for coming by.

From Reader Stacie

THIS COMMENT WAS posted Monday morning by Stacie in the comments of my Saturday piece on Sarah Palin below. It was a lovely thing to share and I thought it deserved a wider audience. Thanks again Stacie for taking time to write this! I invite comments and personal stories like this any time.


Wow, looks like I missed out here on a typical liberal rant...

I was 26 when I went to college. Prior to that, I traveled around the world WORKING for 5 years on ships that carried many of the liberals from the East and West Coasts. I had President Reagan on board one ship, the M.V. Silverado, for 2 weeks in Alaska.

He and Mrs. Reagan were BY FAR the kindest people I had to wait on...the others were the "Elite" that were so educated and superior to me and my kind. Well, those elites were crass, rude and abominable in more ways that are fit to print. I quickly learned that the ELITE were piggish on good days...

Reagan and I would eat breakfast every morning and he treated me like a granddaughter, as did Mrs. Reagan. He chastised me for not having a college education, and working on boats instead. I told him in reply that I don't know too many "educated" people that had the opportunity to eat breakfast alone with a former beloved President of the United States and have the sort of conversations we were having.

This was in the summer of 1992, before he was diagnosed. After all of my traveling, I would much prefer to come to rural America and learn from these folks about how to be a real American than from the educated ELITE's that people think we dislike. You know what? You guys are right. You are disliked. You don't think rationally, you are condescending and we mostly ridicule your ideas as baseless and unworthy of our attention.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mechelle McNair With One of Her Four Sons By Late Husband Steve

Mechelle McNair is pictured above at her late husband's, Steve McNair's, funeral with one of their four boys. Steve died hooked on a feeling. I pray a good and faithful man comes into their lives to take the place that Steve abdicated long ago in his never ending and futile ego quest to fulfill his little idea of manhood. I pray a real man comes to take Steve's place who doesn't define manhood as profanity, pornography, alcohol, violence and threats, preying off weak women in order to momentarily feel good about himself and creating straw men to do battle with. I pray a real man--and not some cheap imitation---comes into their lives who knows that the greatest mission he can ever accomplish is to be a Godly man, a faithful and devoted husband to Mechelle and a great role model/father figure to these four hurting little boys. May God bless and comfort them all during this difficult and humiliating time.

One last thing: I've heard many people say Steve McNair was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I wonder, what if he was finally in the right place at the right time? Isn't enough, at some point, enough?

Conversion of Vladimir I, Russia's Prince

THE CONVERSION OF a fun-loving pagan ruler effectively brought Christianity to Russia.

Though Christianity had already penetrated Russia by the early tenth century, it had not become generally accepted. In 957 Olga, the widowed princess of Kiev was baptized. She then asked German King Otto I to send missionaries to her country. However, this missionary effort met with little success.

Vladimir, Olga's grandson, was among the greatest of the pagans. He built a number of pagan temples, made a name for himself with his cruelty and treachery, had 800 concubines and five wives, and when he wasn't fighting a war, he hunted and feasted in grand style. He like Saul of Tarsus was hardly the person you'd pick for spreading Christianity across the land.

Like other rulers, Vladimir waned to keep his people contented and saw he might do this by uniting them in religion. He reportedly sent out men to examine each of the major religions. Neither Islam nor Judaism with their dietary restrictions appealed to the prince, so he had to choose between Roman and Eastern Christianity (Catholicism).

After attending worship in the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople (Istanbul), Vladimir's men reported back to him: "We do not know whether we were in heaven or on earth for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you. Only we know that God dwells there among men and that their service surpasses worship of all other places. We cannot forget that beauty."

According to the story because of the beauty, Vladimir chose Orthodoxy, the religion of his nation's most powerful, wealthy and civilized neighbor: the Byzantine Empire. The sister of Byzantine Emperor Basil named---Anna---was offered as a bride to Vladimir as the two neighbor's consolidated their alliance.

In 988 Vladimir was baptized and a year later he married Anna. Vladimir's choice of a wife made certain the Russian church would focus on true worship. Eastern Orthodoxy had always had aesthetic appeal.

After Vladimir's baptism his people started to put aside their old religions without much difficulty. Though Russia would not become a Christian nation over-night, things began to change. At first the mass conversions did not run deep but, with the help of monks, the new religion began to make its influence felt.

Thanks to Methodius and Cyril, Russia had a Christian liturgy in its own language---Slavonic. In the beautiful churches built by Vladimir and his successors, the people could participate in a beautiful liturgy in their own tongue.

Vladimir's conversion clearly affected his lifestyle. When he married Anna, he put away his five former wives. He destroyed idols, protected the poor, established schools and churches and lived at peace with neighboring nations. On his deathbed he gave all his possession to the poor.

The Greek church eventually canonized him.

----The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Sarah Palin's Resignation


TRULY NOTHING I can remember in recent times has caused me such consternation and soul searching about any subject as what I personally think of Governor Sarah Palin's surprise announcement she's resigning. I've gone round-and-round with myself over the past week sometimes thinking she's made the political blunder of the century by abandoning her elected commitment, to then thinking she's weak and a gold-digger. Of course I'd seen, heard and read for months how hateful the left MSM media is towards her and her family, but I was wary and upset she wasn't hanging tougher through all this. I didn't want to give her the benefit of the doubt. She'd made her political bed and now needed to sleep in it, at least for the next 18 months.

Now however I'm beginning to think differently about this and see it in a whole new light. After reading countless articles from the right and left over the past week, which haven't done a thing for me, yesterday a friend (thanks, CA) forwarded me a piece by Francis Rice, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, lawyer and chairman of the National Black Republican Association. It changed my heart and mind forever. This piece below astounded me and I encourage everyone to take time to read it.

It should give us all great pause. I realize now how unaware I've been of the full reality of what's gone on in Alaska since Obama's election sent her back to the Alaska statehouse. I am going to publish most of Rice's column here so readers can decide for themselves. I now believe Palin's decision was more than justified and that she did the right thing to resign for her family first, and too for the people of Alaska. Her enemies were putting her and the business of Alaska in untenable gridlock. The frivilous lawsuits against her were creating unmanageable debt and financial burdens she and her family simply were not prepared to withstand on a prolonged basis.

My sadness is that this kind of thing could happen in America today. While I think Sarah Palin will not be POTUS in the foreseeable future, nor should be, I believe she will become a stellar, powerful spokeswoman on the right who will be more effective now than any elected office she could ever aspire to. She will also be the star Republican fundraiser for all sorts of candidates and issues in upcoming elections. In addition, she will make much more money for her family by going on the speaker's circuit in the Lower 48. I hope she makes a killing! No one wishes Sarah Palin success and well-being in whatever she does more than I. I remain one of her greatest fans.

Below is Rice's article, the best I've read to date, Conservative America:


“Why Sarah Palin Quit: The Five Best Explanations” by Jay Newton-Small quotes Alaska state legislators who lay the blame at the door of the Democrats. Quoted is Alaska State Senator Gene Therriault, a Republican representing the town of North Pole who said: “We started seeing a proliferation of ethics complaints against her. It was an orchestrated effort to take her down”. That article can be found on the Internet here.

Governor Sarah Palin’s surprising resignation announcement in the face of the horrific treatment she received from Democrats and their media allies struck within me a familiar cord. Although Palin’s abuse was mental harassment inflicted through public humiliation via spoken and written words and mounting debt from frivolous ethics charges, she was nonetheless effectively hounded out of public office. This brought to mind the sinister tactics used by Democrats against Republicans after the American Civil War that freed blacks from slavery.

Determined to keep blacks in virtual slavery after losing the Civil War, Democrats set about the task of ending Reconstruction and driving out of the South all Republicans, a result that kept blacks at the mercy of ruthless Democrats for over 100 years.

The facts about the horrors inflicted upon Republicans by Democrats are laid bare in the books “A Short History of Reconstruction” by Dr. Eric Foner and “Unfounded Loyalty” by Wayne Perryman.

The meticulous research by Foner and Perryman uncovered inhumanity by Democrats so startling as to seem surreal. Democrats, Perryman wrote, used every means possible to destroy Reconstruction including lynching, whippings, murder, intimidation, assassinations and mutilations.

Foner exposed how the Ku Klux Klan, that was founded in 1866 as a Tennessee social club and became the terrorist arm of the Democrat Party, spread into nearly every Southern state, launching a “reign of terror” against Republican leaders, black and white. The Klan lynched over 2,000 black Republicans and 1,000 white Republicans.

In a chilling passage Foner wrote: “Jack Dupree, a victim of a particularly brutal murder in Monroe County, Mississippi - assailants cut his throat and disemboweled him, all within sight of his wife, who had just given birth to twins - was ‘president of a republican club‘ and known as a man who ‘would speak his mind’” .
Sarah Palin is a woman who speaks her mind. She is a decent and honorable citizen who loves her family and country. Palin was subjected to a high-tech lynching by Democrats and their media minions because she had the audacity to be a Republican elected official and an apparent great political threat to the Democratic Party’s ruling elite.

For nearly a century, most blacks were aligned with the Republican Party and, thereby, posed a significant threat to the Democratic Party’s quest for power. Terror was used by Democrats for 100 years and monetary handouts for the past 50 years to mold blacks into reliable pawns in the Democratic Party’s political power game. It is ironic that the Democratic Party is now led by President Barack Obama, a black man who unabashedly helps Democrats keep blacks corralled on the Democratic Party’s economic plantation, voting mindlessly for any politician identified as a Democrat.

America, how did we come to the point where we are all held in the Democratic Party’s iron grip of fear of being destroyed personally, as was Sarah Palin, while the Democrats work feverishly to make us economic slaves?
A mock liberal rant, “
I Still Hate You, Sarah Palin - The Republicans bring a knife to a gunfight, and lose again” by David Kahane presents a hysterical tirade against Palin by a fictional Democratic Party operative. A comparison of Kahane’s feigned scorn with the real hatred directed at Palin by Democrats shows that his article is close to reality.

NBRA tribute to Sarah Palin made long before her resignation announcement

John Ziegler at Big Hollywood has more.


One parting salvo: I believe what happened to Palin is also happening to this country at warp speed. We cannot throw up our hands now and let this happen. The left will do anything to undermine our way of life and freedoms, and destroy the fixed principles this society rests on. We've got to stand up and get rowdy as time goes on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

McNair & Co: Why Is Infidelity So Rampant In Pro Sports?



I'VE ALWAYS LOVED COLLEGE baseball, basketball and occasionally football. But when fans move up to the pros like the NFL and NBA, I begin to think of most players as over-sexed, over-paid, and over-praised thugs and gorillas, and lose interest. Whether it's true or not, Steve McNair's low-life murder last weekend begs the question: Why is infidelity so rampant in pro-sports? Why is it such a culture of adultery? Can no one control themselves? Sure there's temptation from adoring female fans everywhere, but is there no way for a sports star to control himself and resist? Where are the wives in all this? Do these meatheads just run wild through bars and alleys like gang busters with no one holding them accountable, let alone their families? David Boclair at Nashville City Paper begins to probe.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A True, Die-Hard Fisherman Who Knows How to Unwind and Improvise

U.S. Marine Corporal Taly Ramirez of St. Paul, Minn. used some downtime Tuesday to fish in a canal in Mian Poshteh, Afghanistan. A real fisherman will use anything he can get his hands on, anytime, anywhere and usually catch fish. But if he doesn't, he's still happy and relaxed. God bless this man and this fisherman.

And may God bless all our troops abroad.

WSJ Photos of the Day

Post Mortem on Former Titans Quarterback Steve McNair


TWO MORE-THAN-IRONIC events happened shortly before former Titans quarterback Steve McNair was fatally shot in his love condo four times---right temple once, heart twice then left temple--while he was passed out/drunk in the early morning hours of the 4th of July by his current exotic "girl friend/soul mate," Iranian Sahel Kazemi, that I find of great and fascinating symbolic interest:

First, he'd just made a community service Public Service Announcement (PSA) for suicide prevention, in the strictest sense of the word suicide. Only, Steve forgot to remember that suicide comes in all shapes and sizes and colors, fast and slow, and all things in between. He forgot that he had been committing slow suicide for years with all his womanizing, fasting living, bar hopping and infidelity to his wife and four sons.

Second, earlier the Friday night of his murder, Steve was out with some of his sycophant friends at the Blue Moon Lagoon out on the Cumberland River---one of my most favorite funky restaurants in Nashville (only I like to go with a my favorite date when it's cold and uncrowded---and was accosted by one of his former, ahem, girl friends who saw him, went over to his table and accused him of secretly slipping her a date-rape drug a year earlier. She said her boy friend was going to kill him and created such a scene she was forcibly escorted out the door. After all, everyone loved and protected Steve's image, no matter what the reality, and anything that threatened his iconic persona had to expelled.

It was well-known that Steve McNair was a womanizer. Because he was famous, everyone ignored the elephant in the room. He got a free pass. Until the night his free pass expired, so to speak.

Earlier that fateful week, McNair had been in the car with Sahel when she was pulled over and charged with a DUI as he rode in the passenger seat. She was hauled in to jail while he made a quick exit from the Escalade that was registered in both their names into a taxi. He was furious but later bailed her out of jail.

Lots of other red flags, but you get the gist. Steve McNair, like Michael Jackson, was another dead man walking, who made headlines when he finally, actually died.

He will never open that new restaurant Gridiron he was so excited about. He'll never see his wife and four sons again. He'll never make another public service announcement or mentor another up-and-coming Titans quarterback---all because he was hooked on feelings that desperately drove him from one woman to another and another without regard to the real feelings of his wife and little boys.

And no matter what interference Titans nice-guy coach Jeff Fisher runs about "the great Steve McNair he knew," Steve's low-life living of sex, drugs, alcohol, and bar hopping should be a cautionary tale for all of us and in the end detracts from all the good, community service work he's done over the years.

In the end, bullets in the head and chest ended the long, slow suicidal spiral of former NFL great, Steve McNair. Mark Sanford, Eddie George etc, are you listening?
As Nashville grieves for its great idol Steve McNair, let's give grief where crief is due: Mechelle McNair and the four boys she had with her unfaithful husband. May God be with them all.

Special thanks for the great local coverage to Kleinheider at the Nashville Post. His best piece here. And also to the Nashville City Paper.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coming Into the Country, From Grand Junction to Victor, Idaho

SOUTH FORK OF the fabulous Snake River in Idaho not far from the Wyoming line, and just west of Palisades dam and Conan bridge.

Driving from Green River, Utah up through Price then onto I-15 near Provo, behemoth wind turbines greeted drivers as we summited the mountain pass. A common scene of the New West.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How God Created Us


WHILE ON MY DRIVE last week into Colorado, I heard two amazing broadcasts from Focus on the Family. This is the testimony of Adolph Coors IV who spoke of his family and early life, including the disappearance and brutal murder of his father back in the early 60s outside Golden Colorado.

Part 1 of My Journey to Salvation is here, and part 2 follows. Truly poignant and worth listening to from a man who had it all and still found nothing filled the hole in his heart until God invaded it and broke through his many self-defeating patterns.

The thing that stood out the most in my mind is the point that Ad Coors makes about how God creates a hole in our hearts that only He, God, can fill. Yet each of us often spends a lifetime filling the void with everything else: work, play, sex and romance, power, money and success, family, shopping and spending money, writing, alcohol, therapy, pornography,bitterness, drugs, good works and a million other things. At first and for a while, it seems we have found IT, whatever our own idea of IT is. Then when the newness wears off and the fulfillment begins to fade over time, we go after another IT again, hoping it will better fulfill the hole.

This goes on and on endlessly until and unless the Grace of God breaks through in our lives and shows us the hollowness and futility of our endless attempts of making good things ultimate things in our lives. That's what sin is, our putting anything, anything before God. The Word of God isn't kidding when it says, Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all things will then be added.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fourth of July in Grand Junction

WILL TRY GETTING to get back to the computer over the weekend, especially on Sunday, however, I may not be able to. In any event, hope everyone has a safe and fun 4th of July weekend. May God bless America and safeguard our many freedoms that we so take for granted . Will be staying just a few miles from the Utah border. Grand Junction is mesa country.