Is abortion ‘right’ worth a celebration?

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla — A brief newspaper story I came across this week both saddened and angered me.

The story was announcing a Jan. 14 event in Tampa called “Roe on the Rocks: Celebrate Choices,” a “celebration” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s contorted 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the case that led to legalized and almost limitless abortion.

Lucky for those who attended, the free event included refreshments.

The use of the word “celebrate” is what really got to me.

My thinking is you celebrate birthdays. You celebrate anniversaries. You celebrate the Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year’s Day. But unless you’re cold, cruel and lacking a moral compass, you don’t “celebrate” a female’s so-called “privacy right” to have her unborn child sucked from her womb in bits and pieces.

Why is the United States of America no longer the great nation it once was? Why would God withhold His blessings from this land? Look to the things some of its people now “celebrate” and you’ll find at least one of the answers to those questions.

The much-criticized and lampooned Tim Tebow, quarterback of the Denver Broncos and former University of Florida quarterback, had a great game Sunday in the Broncos’ 29-23 playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tim Tebow responds well to the pressure

Monday, Jan. 9, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I’ve previously written in this spot that I’m a fan of Tim Tebow, NFL quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

I like the passion he brings to the game of football, I appreciate his mighty role in two national championships when he played for the University of Florida Gators and, most of all, I appreciate his Christian testimony.

So, it was with extreme pleasure Sunday (Jan. 8) that I watched Tebow lead the Broncos to a 29-23 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

NFL insiders and outsiders have long been critics of Tebow, saying that while he had great success in college football, he doesn’t fit the mold of a prototypical NFL quarterback and won’t have success as a pro. Nevertheless, the Denver coaches handed Tebow the starting job at QB about six games into the season, and he led the team to six straight victories.

The critics were muted temporarily, but they seemed to return in greater force when the Broncos lost their last three regular-season games and squeaked into the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

Heading into Sunday’s home game against the Steelers, Tebow was under incredible pressure from Denver fans and even the Broncos’ management to shake off his poor late-season play, do well against the Steelers and get the Broncos into the second round of the playoffs. Add to that the intense media scrutiny, the criticism from NFL “experts” and pundits and the basic widespread hate — yes, hate — for Tebow, and one can imagine how the young QB might have felt before Sunday’s kickoff.

Butterflies in the belly? How about bats in the belly? The kind of nausea that can lead to vomiting.

But Tebow responded exceedingly well, throwing for 316 yards on 10 completions and two touchdowns and running for another score. His last touchdown pass was on an exciting 80-yard play that made short work of the NFL’s new overtime rules for playoff games.

After the game, I was so happy for Tebow but still angry about a comment a sports radio “personality” made about him early in the fourth quarter. (I heard the comment on the drive home from an evening church service, when I was checking on the game score.) The radio sports guy, an obvious Tebow critic, was struggling to say something good about him but then slipped again into critic mode with a comment that was just mean and anything but the truth.

Tebow, he said, is a “cartoon character.”

Let’s be honest, folks. Tebow critics and haters are all over the place not because of his NFL-type football skills or perceived lack of them and not because he wears his passion for the game on his sleeves. They’re all over the place because Tebow is a Christian and not ashamed of it. He’s a walking, talking and living testimony for Jesus Christ, and the world can’t stand that — especially from such a public personality.

“Forget this Jesus talk and just play football,” the hoards say.

In the scheme of things, it is Tebow who has the things of life in proper perspective and priority. For him, it is faith in Jesus Christ first, family second and football somewhere lower on the list.

His is an example that NFL pundits, players and fans — and yahoos on sports radio — would be very wise to follow.

World Wide Web offers some value

Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I suppose I should be thanking *Al Gore, the former vice president and Oscar-winning filmmaker (choke), for inventing the Internet.

A few minutes on the íNet very early this morning saved me at least $75 and about 90 minutes of work.

My online time was spent researching a possible solution to a problem that developed with my garage door opener. The openerís light wouldnít go off automatically a few minutes after the garage door was opened or closed.

It didnít take long for me to come across a suggested fix, which was to unplug the opener from its power source for five minutes and allow the logic board to reset itself.

Well, I did what the suggestion called for and, by golly, it worked! After opening or closing my garage door, the openerís light now goes off on its own after about four minutes. Itís as good as new.

The Internet is loaded with junk, lies and pornography, but it does have its redeeming points. The solution to my garage door opener problem is but one of those redeeming points, and that pleases me.

What doesnít please me is that a technician for the company that made my garage door opener didnít offer the solution I discovered online when I called the company help desk the other day. After I gave him the model number for my opener and described my problem, the man told me I had three choices: 1. Remove the bulb from the openerís light socket (which I had already done as a temporary fix). 2. Replace the openerís logic board (at a cost of time and about $75 for the part). 3. Replace the entire unit (at a much greater cost).

None of the technicianís solutions satisfied me, which drove me to the Internet and my search for another option.

After my success with resetting the logic board, this question immediately came to mind: ďIf the solution to the problem was relatively easy to find on the Internet, why didnít the openerís help-desk technician know about it and suggest it to me?Ē

Could it be that the help desk is less about helping and providing good solutions and more about selling openers and opener parts?

The cynic in me says ďYes.Ē

*Al Gore didnít really invent the Internet, but he once boasted he did. He really did win an Academy Award for “An Inconvenient Truth,” a 2006 documentary about global warming, but the film was based on junk science and, like a lot of stuff on the Internet, is everything but the truth.

Harold D. Braddy, the editor’s father, was little more than a kid when he joined the military in the early 1950s. This photo only recently became known to the editor.

We love our veterans — especially those close who served

Friday, Nov. 11, 2011


I would be remiss on this Veterans Day 2011 if I didn’t say how much I am thankful for our U.S. veterans — those who served our nation honorably in the past and those who currently serve in war zones and in peaceful stations around the world.

I am especially grateful for two veterans most close to me: My late father, Harold Dean Braddy, and my younger brother, Dwight Richard Braddy (named for a U.S. president and a vice president who went on to become president).

Dwight served in the U.S. Marine Corps for a hitch that began not long after he graduated from high school in the early 1980s. I remember traveling up to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for his graduation from boot camp.

Also at the boot camp graduation was Dad, who then was about eight years into his retirement from the military. He was really just a kid when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s. He was in the U.S. Army when he completed more than 20 years of service in 1975, having earned the rank of chief warrant officer. I’ve never known for sure why, how and when the move from the Air Force to the Army occurred, but it seems to have worked out OK for Dad.

Unless you count my many years as an always-moving Army brat (twice the family lived on base at Fort Riley, Kan.), I never served in the military. But, I wanted to.

In the early 1980s, not long after my wife and I were married, I went down to the Winter Haven Armory, inquired about joining the National Guard and went to far as to pick up the enlistment papers. But, the wife would have nothing of that and any talk of enlistment talk was off. Forever.

I’ve fussed on this site about Dad and the unhealthy smoking and drinking habits that I believe cut his life very short, but I couldn’t be more proud of his military service and his two tours of duty in the Vietnam war zone in the 1960s.

My many years around but not in the military have left a soft spot in my heart for the institution and for those who have honorably and bravely worn the uniform.They have my undying respect and gratitude.

Nine months after
the big change,
contentment holds

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011


Today is the eighth day of the month. It’s also a Tuesday.

Exactly nine months ago, on the eighth day of the month, a Tuesday, I worked my last day for the News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven.

It was a tough decision to leave my employer of many, many years — my employment comfort zone, if you will — and it carried considerable financial risk because I didn’t have another job lined up.

But I took a leap of faith that everything would work out well in the end.

Today, just as that day nine months ago, I have absolutely no regrets about my big move — my “retirement” from daily newspaper editing and publishing.


There are several reasons really, but the biggest is that the job was consuming me — and in all ways negatively.

The regrets I have now are about all the things — the really important things — that I ignored, sacrificed and missed out on in my attempt to do an excellent job for my company, the newspaper and the community.

Those really important things of life are faith, family, friendships and even simple daily pleasures. And work, as my dear and late father-in-law used to tell me, is just a means to an end.

I value work, especially the kind that is meaningful, enjoyable and personally satisfying and enriching, but the desire of my heart is to place more value on the God who created me, the Christ who saved me and the people most close to me.

Once I made the decision to leave the paper, I made a promise that at the very first opportunity following my last day of work there that I would be back in church. And I kept that promise. I have since realized how much I missed being in church, missed the singing and missed the preaching and teaching. I also have realized how very important all of those things are to my spiritual and personal well being.

Now that I’ve resumed regular church attendance, it truly hurts when work — yes, the Lord has blessed with many new opportunities and new sources of income — and other unavoidable matters interfere with the service times.

Nine months ago, despite the uncertainty then ahead of me, I was content and at peace for the first time in a very long time. Today, because I value more the really important things of life — and because I know God will provide — I remain that way.

And in the end, at least so far and at least as far as I’m concerned, everything has worked out. It has worked out quite well, indeed.

Will The Ledger remain ‘liberal’?

For almost 40 years, The Ledger in Lakeland has been a New York Times Co.-owned newspaper.

That came to abrupt end Friday (Jan. 6, 2012) with the announcement that the sale of The Ledger and 15 other NYT Co. papers to Halifax Media Holdings LLC had been completed.

Among the papers included in the $143 million cash purchase by Daytona Beach-based Halifax Media was my former employer, Winter Haven’s News Chief, which The Ledger and NYT Co. bought almost four years ago to eliminate a prime source of competition.

The Ledger’s ownership by the NYT Co. brought prestige, great media and technical resources, nice benefits for employees and usually solid financial backing, but it also brought the baggage that the local paper was, like its parent, very socially and politically liberal in tone and opinion page content.

People have wondered for years how and why The Ledger could be “so liberal” in a county, Polk, dominated by basically conservative people.

Compared to the “conservative” News Chief, which I served as a newsroom employee for many years and later as editor, The Ledger definitely leaned to the left.

I was with the News Chief when it was purchased in March 2008 by The Ledger and NYT Co. and worked as a NYT Co. employee for almost three years. Honestly, as a conservative, I felt like a fish out of water the whole time, though I liked and respected — and still do — The Ledger managers and employees who went instantly from competeters to colleagues at the stroke of midnight on March 10, 2008.

Will The Ledger’s new affiliation with Halifax Media steer it in a more conservative course editorially? Will the News Chief remain a basically “conservative” newspaper. I hope so, but time will tell.

I noticed that with Friday’s issue of the News Chief, all New York Times Co. logos and references to the company had been removed. There’s a piece of me that will quietly rejoice when all references to the NYT also are removed from the signage at the office (and Ledger bureau) that houses the News Chief in Winter Haven. JB (Jan. 7, 2012)

Drug commercials
on TV are amusing

I wasn’t watching TV tonight, but from the kitchen I could hear the commercial for a new drug that was developed to offset the symptoms of depression.

It amused me that while the first half of the commercial voiceover was spent extolling all the benefits of the drug, the second half was spent warning potential users about how the drug can make them sick, make them go blind and even kill them.

The second half of the commercial is called the legal disclaimer, and it’s the drug manufacturer’s way — at least one way — of staving off potential lawsuits over unintended side effects.

“The drug made your big toe fall off? Well, we warned you,” the lawyers for the pharmaceutical company can now say.

The way the ad text is written is altogether funny, sad and absolutely necessary in an age of instant lawsuits. JB (Jan. 7, 2012)

Quiet time lends
itself to thinking

In the course of the past several months, I've almost totally shunned the radio, CDs and other background noise while I'm traveling alone in the old Buick sedan or the even-older Chevy pickup.

In a world full of noise and distractions, I've come to value any opportunity for quiet time. It gives me time to think, ponder, reflect and medidate (with eyes wide open on the road, of course).

If I’m alone at home, the television is seldom on. Is there really anything but Florida Gators football (and that might be a stretch this season) worth watching? I’m a news guy by trade, but even TV news and commentary, with its leftist slant and just plain idiocy, is too maddening to watch, so I don’t.

I write this as perhaps a too-long and convoluted lead-in to my main thought, which came to me during a Monday morning drive to the dentist’s office in Winter Haven.

With the radio off and the only noise being that of the Buick's engine and the muffled outside traffic, it occurred to me during the drive that a job, however necessary and appreciated, can really interfere with the important things in life, such as family, church and the truly meaningful things one most likes or wishes to do. And then this statement came to mind:

“If your job gets in the way of your work, a change in your life might be in order.”

Original? I hope so. Worthy of consideration? Maybe. Just maybe. — JB (Oct. 26, 2011)

An excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas:

Another good source of news from, for and about the right:

An interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln:

For great and trendy technology:

A great community project:

A good movie: It’s a low-budget film called “Fireproof,” starring Kirk Cameron. You'll cry — if you have any kind of heart at all.

For breakfast out: Fred’s Southern Kitchen, 1551 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven. The breakfast buffet is wonderful — even after the $5 special has run its course.

For supper out: The wife and I tried the new Manny’s Original Chophouse at 1100 Third St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), in Winter Haven the other day. And I like it — well enough to recommend it here. If it hasn’t done so already, Manny’s will eat (pun intended) into business at Winter Haven’s Longhorn Steakhouse, a place with great food but always-rising prices.

A marquee outside a local personal storage business: “Land of the free because of the brave.” (It’s on bumper stickers, too.)

A local church sign: “In the dark? Follow the Son.”

Another church sign: “Questions are in life. Answers are in church.”

Still another area church sign: “God isn’t withholding anything from you. He’s holding it for you.”

An open invitation to attend:

Stars: To the Central Intelligence Agency and its drone strike teams teams for taking out another bad guy. A missile fired Friday (Sept. 30) from an aircraft piloted remotely by the CIA over northernYemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the fiery U.S.-born Islamic jihadist and propagandist for al-Qaida. The world is a better place without al-Awlaki and certainly a better place without Osama bin Laden, the long-sought al-Qaida leader killed in a lightning strike by U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan in May. Yea for the good guys! Yea for our side in the fight against Islamic terrorism!


Alabama still shouldn’t
have been in title game

Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Most sports fans and many casual observers of the national news scene knew by Tuesday morning (Jan. 10) that the University of Alabama had defeated Louisiana State, 21-0, in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) title game in New Orleans the night before.

What’s my excuse for not know the results of the game until Wednesday? I have three, actually. 1. These days, I rarely watch television, including TV news. 2. A onetime talk radio junkie, I seldom now turn on the radio — in the car or anywhere else. 3. I completely forgot until Wednesday morning that the game was played Monday night.

I wasn’t surprised that Alabama, ranked second in the final 2011 BCS poll, had upset undefeated and No. 1-ranked LSU, the only team that had topped the Crimson Tide during the regular season.

I was a little concerned, though, that ’Bama fans would use the game result to mock me for having written almost five weeks ago that their team didn’t deserve to be in the BCS title game.

My point in a Dec. 4 column (you can find it here) was that the BCS system is very flawed by allowing a team that did not win its conference championship into the BCS title game. (That game usually decides major college football's mythical national championship, the MNC.)

Not only did Alabama NOT win the 2011 Southeastern Conference title, the team didn’t even play in the SEC title game. LSU got into that game by winning the SEC Western Division and then won the SEC title by defeating Georgia.

My Dec. 4 column never addressed whether Alabama could contend with and even defeat LSU in a rematch (as it obviously did). I never wrote that Alabama didn’t stand a chance against the mighty Tigers. I wrote only that a team without a conference championship should not be eligible to play in that season’s BCS title game. And I haven’t changed my opinion about that — no matter what happened Monday night.

Because the competition factor — a paper matchup of two strong teams — was not a basis for my opinion, today I am not eating crow and I am not wiping egg off my face.

Weight loss possible when exercising some discipline

Saturday Dec. 31, 2011



Thatís the message I saw on a sign outside a used sporting goods store I drove by in Winter Haven a couple of weeks before Christmas.

Motorists passing my truck at the time might have seen the wry smile that came to my face.

ďNow, that says a lot,Ē I thought.

It told me that the store likely paid almost nothing for, and probably was asking top dollar for, several treadmills that people wasted their money on and wanted to get out of the house.

It told me that the store was taking advantage of the holiday buying and gift-giving season to help ring up some sales ó not that thereís anything wrong with that.

It told me that the store also was timing the treadmill sales to the coming new year and the penchant among many people to resolve to lose weight and get fit.

And it told me that at least 17 people in the area likely gave up on their resolution and didnít want to have a treadmill around the house to remind them about it.

(How many more people are there who gave up on their fitness resolution but still have a treadmill or some other large piece of exercise equipment taking up space in the family room or garage?)

Iím here to say that anybody ó anybody ó can lose weight and get fit and that nobody ó absolutely nobody ó needs to waste hard-earned money on expensive exercise equipment to do it. (Sorry, manufacturers and retailers.)


“It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Donna Reed, third from left, and Jimmy Stewart, fourth from left, shows us how each life affects the life of so many others.

Life is wonderful, even without the materialism

Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011


Random thoughts as Christmas Eve 2011 morphed into Christmas Day …

It is a wonderful life

It’s not exactly a holiday tradition in the Braddy household, but I spent most of Christmas Eve watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on NBC-TV. (With the exception of a few Florida Gators football games, the three-hour-long movie presentation — stretched by lots and lots of commercials — was the most TV I’ve watched in a single sitting in months. I find most TV programming mindless and a complete waste of time, so I purposely avoid it.)

The Christmas favorite, starring the very talented Jimmy Stewart and very lovely Donna Reed, doesn’t get to me every time I watch it, but this time it did, bringing me to tears. I’ve never been in the kind of trouble in which George Bailey finds himself in this story, but I know well the feeling of deep hopelessness and despair and the need to call on God for help.

Most everyone knows the key message of the movie: Everyone’s life touches so many other lives, and the selfless and generous George is shown how badly his community and those he loved would have turned out had he been granted his wish to have never been born.

I’ve wondered many times how my life would’ve turned out — for better or for worse — had I made different decisions or taken or been taken on different paths along the way. For example, where would I be today and what would I be doing had my mother not been so afraid to fly and so unwilling to accompany, with me and my siblings in tow, my soldier father when he received orders in the late 1960s to serve in West Germany?

We came so close to moving to Europe, at least temporarily, but we didn’t. Instead, Mom, my sister, my brother and I stayed behind and lived for a few years in Green Forest, Ark., my dad’s hometown in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, until Dad received new orders to return to the States.

Had we all gone to West Germany, it’s very likely that I wouldn’t have become a writer/editor/journalist, it’s possible that my home would’ve been somewhere other than Central Florida, and it’s improbable that I would’ve found and married the former Lana Renee Whitmer, become a father to two bright and lovely girls and then become a grandfather to the sweetest of babies, Kameron Riley Marshall.

All of this boggles the mind. I’m reminded of the movie “Back to the Future” and several “Star Trek” time-travel episodes, in which the main characters are warned repeatedly not to disrupt the “time-space continuum” and alter the course of history.

But, I digress.

While I believe — while I know — that I can be a much better man, a much better husband, a much better father, a much better friend, a much better worker and a much better Christian, I am mostly content with my place in this world and my station in life. And that, I think, is where George Bailey eventually finds himself when he realizes that his truly has been — and is — a wonderful life.

Relationships trump ‘things’

The idea — the truth — that relationships, both earthly and eternal, are more important than material things has been galvanized on this Christmas of 2011.

Leading up to the big day, which this year for our family was Christmas Eve rather than Christmas proper for food, fellowship and gift exchanges, I was reminded of the notion that a person who has clothes on his back, a roof over his head, food in his belly and the personal security of eternal salvation really has all he needs. Throw in love from family and friends and a person has a double and even triple shot of blessings.

“Things” are nice, “things” are cool and “things” can be fun, but, in the big picture, “things” often are frivolous and they certainly are temporal.

“You can’t take it with you,” as the saying goes.

What I will remember most from this Christmas won’t be the gifts, however appreciated they are. What I will remember most will be the time I’ve spent with family (have I mentioned that precious 5-month-old granddaughter?), the best wishes I’ve exchanged with good friends and the worship service I attended at church. (Doesn’t it seem just right for Christmas to fall on a Sunday?)

I like the theme of a holiday advertisement that Publix Super Markets has been running on television, and which I caught several times during the Christmas Eve showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It’s a company image ad rather than a product ad, and the setting, as seen from the outside of a home and looking through a window, is a large family having its holiday feast around a big and formal dining room table. At the end, the narrator sums up the message with something like this: “While gifts are nice, we probably already have everything we’ve ever wished for.”

In a not-so-great age of consumerism, materialism and “things” all around, the Publix ad is a breath of fresh air — one that is most welcome and most true.

End of Iraq War brings mixed thoughts, feelings

Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — It began with a bang — “shock and awe,” don’t you know — and ended with a whimper.

The Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, was declared over by President Barack Hussein Obama in a symbolic speech at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Wednesday (Dec. 14) and in an official U.S. military flag-lowering ceremony attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Baghdad on Thursday (Dec. 15).

As the last U.S. troops rolled out of that God-forsaken land (forsaken because it has forsaken the one true and living God) and into Kuwait on Sunday (Dec. 18), bringing with them equipment and vehicles America isn’t leaving behind, mixed thoughts flooded my mind.

Many will disagree on technical points, but I say that the United States won this war, which began on the orders of former President George W. Bush on March 19, 2003, and which I have supported from the outset.

In a war not to conquer and occupy Iraq but to protect U.S. interests, rid that nation of a vile dictator and provide the Iraqi people with an opportunity for freedom and some semblance of democracy, we did just that.

We vanquished the Iraqi military quickly, but then had to deal with years of terrorism and guerrilla and asymmetrical warfare; eventually found dictator Saddam Hussein and turned him over for a trial that led to his just execution in 2006; and led the way in stablizing the nation enough to give democracy a chance.

We left Iraq basically on our own terms and timetable, in no way like we left — fled? — Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

And we settled once and for all the issue that was a principal reason for going to war in the first place: Iraq’s capability to create, stockpile and use “weapons of mass destruction,” or WMDs.

What we found out was that we had been duped by Saddam. Though he had used chemical weapons in the past on his own people, he fooled the world into believing he had new and more destructive WMDs to make his nation seem stronger and more threatening, particularly to neighboring Iran, that it really was.

While still being counted, the cost in U.S. blood and treasure has been exceedingly high. Out of more than 1.5 million U.S. troops who served in Iraq, about 4,500 were killed and about 30,000 were wounded. Economically, the cost likely will exceed $800 billion.

I am so proud of the U.S. men and women who voluntarily chose to enter in the military and did their duty — and did it well — when ordered to the battlefield that was Iraq.

I am not proud of the U.S. civilian leaders and members of the “intelligence” community who were too easily fooled by Saddam and his government and who took us to war with horribly bad information.

And I am not proud of U.S. miltary leaders who were caught unprepared for, and then reacted slowly to, the crude but effective warfare waged by terrorists in Iraq after the major and conventional battles between U.S. coalition and Iraqi forces were over. Most of our troops who were killed and injured in Iraq were casualties of IEDs, or improvised exploding devices, and not conventional warfare.

The purpose of our military is to kill people and break things, but more than nine years after the major fighting ended in Iraq and so-called reconstruction began, the country and its infractrure are still very much shattered and its economy on extremely shaky footing. It’s maddening to think about it, but billions of U.S. reconstruction dollars for Iraq have been looted or squandered, and more economic spoils from the war are going not to the United States but to nations that didn’t commit troops against Saddam. And, most alarmingly, the Iraqi government is not strong enough to fend off the interference and negative influence of a sinister Iranian government.

Had we not gone to war in Iraq, Saddam likely would still be in power there, Iraqi citizens still would be tortured and killed by Saddam's henchmen and U.S. military air assets still would be deployed to patrol no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. But, the cost in U.S. casualties and taxpayer dollars to date would have been far, far less.

In a rare moment of agreement with President Obama, I say the service of U.S. military personnel in Iraq has not been in vain. The troops did what they had to do and almost always succeeded, despite having to fight under asanine “rules of engagement” and with one hand tied behind their backs.

Now that the U.S. military role in Iraq is over, I can say that I am not unhappy about it, though I am concerned about Iraq slipping into a civil war and then being led by proxy from Iran.

I also can say that the next time our government says a conventional war “over there” is necessary, I will be much more skeptical than I was in 2003, when I so wanted to support then-President Bush and believe that his decisions and actions were for the best.

In the past decade, I have become a big fan of using air power, missile-firing drones, special forces and better human and technical intelligence in foreign lands to carry out military operations and protect U.S. interests — wherever they may be.

How much would we have saved and how much could we have accomplished in Iraq had we fully deployed those assets rather than put millions of boots on the ground?

It’s an interesting questions to ask, but for the thousands of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, a question much too late to ask.

Those in news media excel in negativity, scab picking

Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011


FROSTPROOF, Fla. — The depth of this recession has left all Americans in a mood just as deep as the economy around us. I maintain that the collective world of media, both print and television, has failed miserably in its contribution to our nation’s welfare. Far too many of its members are more interested in profit than public service. The public, remember, is the source of their profit.

With the destruction of Republican Herman Cain’s bid for the presidency, we see the media at its worst. The period leading up to the presidential election is the time when we need to learn as much as we can about a candidate’s leadership skills, his political strengths, his knowledge of world affairs and plans for our future.

Instead, when a salacious story surfaces, the tabloid-style media vultures descend on the subject to find the scabs to pick. The most important qualities of a candidate get lost in a feeding frenzy of malevolence.

One does not have to go very far back into history to find evidence of presidents with checkered backgrounds who managed to serve out their times in office successfully. Presidents Kennedy and Clinton come to mind immediately. Despite moral failings, they had enough of the right skills to serve their citizens appropriately in matters most important to the post they held.

The tabloid vultures would have us place private weaknesses before all else. Those of us who have read the Bible know that it teaches us to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. I don’t say these are acceptable qualities, but these things are God’s to handle.

Politics is the area that is Caesar’s realm. We must not let these vultures remove our choices to structure our political landscape to their liking.

If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich emerges as the Republican choice for president, you wait and see, they will pounce on him for more scab picking.

Our economy desperately needs positive leadership. We need the good, decent ethical members of the media, and there are more of them than vultures, to come forth and show the proper course of action.

We need investigative reporters to scout for any business that has hired anyone. It doesn’t matter whether it is a fast-food restaurant, department store or a junkyard business. On a daily basis, we need to see interviews with the new hires and hear their stories. We need to hear how long they were out of work and living on macaroni and cheese,  and how happy they are now to be better able to provide for their families.

We need these stories facing us every day of our recession-dominated lives. We need the good journalists to swamp the scab-picking vultures with solid, positive evidence of a recession turnaround.

Let us stop feeding the fantasies of peeping Toms. We, the people, deserve better than that.

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached by e-mail at

The irony of it all

This piece of art, created in the wake of the recent protests against corporate America and Wall Street, is making the rounds on the Internet. It shows well the irony of the protests and the hypocrisy — idiocy? — of most of those doing the protesting. We have a few things of our own to say about these protests, so check back soon. In the meantime, go here for a larger version of this illustration.

True, Barack Hussein Obama is the president of the United States, but can Americans trust this man to keep the nation strong, well defended and free? (U.S. government photos)

On cue, ‘Obamaspeak’ follows failure of budget ‘Super Committee’

Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, President Barack Hussein Obama proposed a “Super Committee” to provide the nation that which Congress could not. Namely, a federal budget that would simultaneously reduce America's $15 trillion indebtedness while continuing the expansion of Barack Hussein’s entitlement programs.

By definition, there could be no budget acceptable to both the Sociocoms (aka “Democrats”) and alleged conservatives (aka “Republicans”). There should be no surprise at this ideological impasse. It came off as planned by the Sociocoms.

How’s that again?


Daily commute pleasant, full of interesting sights

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this site the five-day-a-week drive to my “day job.”

It’s about 25 minutes one way, but it’s not a bad drive. On the contrary, it’s very pleasant most of the time.

For much of the journey, I take the easternmost leg of the Polk Parkway (State Road 570), the approximately 10-mile section that runs from Winter Lake Road (State Road 540) north to Interstate 4.

The end of the section, from about Mile Marker 21 to Mile Marker 24 (I-4) has been under construction for quite some time. It’s been interesting to watch since mid-May the daily progress of the work as crews widen the parkway and put in a major interchange leading west to the future University of South Florida Polytechnic campus (which, for now, will keep its USF ties) and east to Berkley Road, north of Auburndale.


What’s the truth about Social Security? Is it a Ponzi scheme or is it a perpetually viable and dependable financial safety net for older Americans? (Illustration by Joe Braddy)

Social Security (1935-2011): Where is the rage?

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Recently, there has been some controversy regarding the administration of Social Security. One Republican presidential candidate had the audacity to suggest it was a Ponzi scheme. Another Republican presidential candidate suggested otherwise.

Let history be your guide. Since 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, the trillions of working-men and women dollars, placed in trust for their eventual retirement have, indeed, been faithfully doled out to retiring workers.

For several decades, more dollars flowed into Social Security than required for disbursement. Naturally, our elected officials (aka “politicians”) couldn’t help but notice the mounting pile of (formerly) silver certificates. They were fast to take advantage. Rather than expose these silver certificates to the vagaries of the (gasp!) stock market, where, from one day to the next, who knew what fate awaited the innocent!


Keep watching this space and see the bird as it takes on new personalities in a series drawn by James W. MacMeekin III. (Exclusive rights are granted to for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is permitted without written consent of the artist.)


“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” — The final words of Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale before he was hanged by the British on Sept. 22, 1776

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” — Edith Lovejoy Pierce (1904-1983), poet

“One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.” — Col. Harland Sanders (1890-1980), founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” — Harry S. Truman (1884-1982), 33rd U.S. president

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor, founder of General Electric

“The cement of this union is the heart-blood of every American.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), American patriot, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president

Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. — 2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)

“No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” — Lee Greenwood, singer, “Proud to Be an American”

“Nothing will work unless you do.” — John Wooden (1910-2010), college basketball coach

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill, former prime minister of Great Britain

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” — Albert Einstein, mathematician and physicist

“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.” — Unknown

“America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people.” — George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president (2001-09)

“Every artist was first an amateur.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet

“Work spares us from three evils: Boredom, vice and need.” — Voltaire

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau, American author

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. president (1981-89)

“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan. — Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), U.S. civil rights leader

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” — Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States

“The higher our position, the more modestly we should behave.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.-43 B.C.), Roman philosopher, statesman

Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. — Proverbs 14:34 (KJV)

“With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents.” — Omar N. Bradley (1893-1981), U.S. Army general

“Never give an order that can’t be obeyed.” — Douglas MacAuthur (1880-1964), U.S. Army general

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — John Powell, British statesman

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.” — Billy Graham, American evangelist

“By associating with wise people, you will become wise yourself.” — Menander, Greek dramatist (342-291 B.C.)

“The devil is not afraid of a Bible with dust on it.” — Unknown preacher

“Lost time is never found again.” —
Benjamin Franklin, American patriot, statesman and inventor

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” —
George Washington, first U.S. president

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. — Proverbs 4:7 (KJV)

Two peanuts were walking down the road and one was a salted.

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money. — Anonymous, but contributed by Jack Murphy

“My doctor asked me if I’m sufferin’ from old age, and I told him, ‘Why, no, I’m enjoying it.’ When I find myself sitting in the car in my driveway and can’t remember if I’m comin’ or goin’, I’ve got a sure-fire way to figure it out. Just get out and grab ahold of the tailpipe! If it burns the skin off your hand, you just got home.” — Another version of a joke told by Jim Stafford during his Saturday night (Dec. 17) show at The Ritz Theatre in Winter Haven, Fla.

What did the tie say to the hat? “You go on ahead. I’ll just hang around.”

“If you had to specify, in one word, why the human race has not, and will never achieve its full potential, that word would be meetings.” — Dave Barry

A retired husband is often a wife’s full-time job.

I’ve got to get in shape. Yesterday my imagination ran wild, and today my arms and legs are sore. — From the collection of Jack Murphy

A boss with no humor is like a job that is no fun.

“My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.” — Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a libertarian-learning GOP candidate for president, speaking during the Sept. 22 Republican “debate” in Orlando. (We hear that radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh used a similar line earlier in the day.)

Did you hear about the two radio antennas that got married? The wedding was terrible, but the reception was excellent!

Car bumper
displays ignorance

For good and bad, for better or worse, a vehicle bumper sticker usually will be a reflection of the person behind the wheel.

Here is what I saw on the bumper of a white sedan I parked next to recently in front of a Walmart store in Winter Haven:

“Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?”

I take from that the owner or driver of the car is ignorant, just mean or some of both.

The driver obviously has no idea what being born again — “saved” in the Baptist vocabulary — means. He or she doesn’t understand that a person who is born again actually is very mature — mature enough at least to realize that there’s no way a person can earn a home in Heaven by his or her own accord, by his or her own deeds or behavior.

Here’s what else the bumper sticker tells me: The person responsible for it has an anti-Christian disposition and a life that requires some kind of divine intervention.

If there was ever a time to have a Bible tract to stick under the windshield wiper of a car, that was it. — Joe Braddy

New FBI tool is alarming

From, we learn that the FBI soon will activate a nationwide facial recognition service that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos.

And Florida is one of four states that will serve as testing grounds for the alarming new technology this winter.

You can read about it here:

FBI to launch nationwide facial recognition service

The message
is comforting

About a week ago, I heard for the first time a song that hints of a Christmas message but clearly delivers a gospel message.

Sung by two talented ladies at our church, “Immanuel” was made popular by the contemporary Christian trio Point of Grace.

“Immanuel, our God is with us, yes he is with us still. Immanuel, he has not left us, and he never will.”

Of course, Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us” and is another name for Jesus Christ.

Looking up references to the song, I came across a performance of it by Point of Grace on YouTube. You can find it — and, I hope, enjoy it — here. JB

“He was there all the time ... waiting patiently in line.” – From “He Was There All the Time,” a contemporary Christian song





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