was talented, but she also was a fool
March 23, 2012
Fla. — In the “No-Surprise Department,” we learn
that Whitney Houston had illegal drugs in her system when she died
in a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room on Feb. 11.
report released Thursday (March 22) by the Los Angeles County coroner
stated that the singer-actress had used cocaine just before collapsing
in the hotel room’s bathroom and apparently drowning in the
event complicated by the cocaine use” led to Houston’s
slipping under the water, the coroner’s report stated, adding
that the autopsy revealed a 60 percent narrowing of her arteries.
the toxocology report, these drugs also were found in Houston’s
system: Marijuana; Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug; Flexeril, a muscle-relaxing
drug; and Benadryl, an allergy medication. However, according to
the coroner, these drugs did not contribute to her death.
the postmortem investigatation has failed so far to find in Houston’s
system is any ounce of common sense or self-respect.
and beautiful Houston had so much going for her, but she was a fool
to start using and then get addicted to drugs. The “fool”
tag applies to anyone else who engages in the same illicit behavior.
As in Houston’s case, the result will be a miserable life
and likely an early demise, and what right-thinking person wants
taken from a video provided by the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution
System (www.dvidshub.com), shows Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left,
the U.S. Army soldier suspected of gunning down 16 Afghan civilians
on the weekend of March 10.
War zone or
not, murders of civilians is a capital offense
March 17, 2012
Fla. — I was very distressed to learn this week that a U.S.
Army soldier was suspected of making his way into a Afghan village
and killing 16 civilians the weekend of March 10.
I was distressed
for the U.S. military and how it would be viewed by the government
and people it is trying to help and protect in Afghanistan. I was
distressed about the adverse effects the killings would have on
the U.S. mission over there. I was distressed that the honor of
our military was being impuned by the senseless act of one individual.
I was distressed for our own nation. And I was distressed for the
suspected shooter and his family.
I was hoping
against hope that the report was a mistake, that perhaps a Taliban
fighter dressed in U.S. Army clothing did the shootings in a bold
propaganda ploy to portray the U.S. military in the worst possible
light. But that apparently isn’t the case.
On Friday (March
16), the identity of the soldier allegedly responsible for the massacre
was revealed. He’s U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38,
a husband, father of two young children and a once-injured veteran
of four tours of war duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As much as
I love the U.S. military and respect those who serve, and as much
as I can imagine the stresses that wars can have on a soldier (without
having experienced war, I can’t possibly know the stresses
first hand), I have to support the military death penalty in this
case. That would be, of course, if the soldier suspected of the
killings is found mentally fit to stand trial.
My view about
the death penalty in these war-related killings — the apparent
slaughter of 16 civilians — would have to be consistent with
my overall support of capital punishment. In my book, premeditated
murder is a capital offense, whether the crime happens in a war
zone at the hands of someone wearing the uniform of the U.S. military
or whether some punk in street clothes guns down someone on an American
I see the death
penalty not so much as a deterrent to crime — though it can
be — but as a punishment befitting the crime of murder and,
in this case, mass murder. And while the stresses of war might drive
a soldier to murder innocents in an act of rage, revenge for a buddy’s
death or temporary insanity, the law basically deals with the fact
or “what” of murder and not necessary with the psychology
or “why” of murder.
May God be
with everyone in this case. And may God be with our fighting men
and women, wherever they might be.
AN ASIDE: A
little research ahead of this column confirmed that the U.S. Uniform
Code of Military Justice still retains the death penalty among its
possible punishments for personnel convicted of murder. In fact,
six men are on U.S. military death row right now.
The last execution
carried out by U.S. military justice came on April 13, 1961. U.S.
Army Pvt. John A. Bennett was hanged at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.,
after being convicted of rape and attempted murder. Note that this
wasn’t even a murder case.
The source for this
is a website operated by the Death
Penalty Information Center.
As a result of the shooting spree that left 16 civilians dead, Afghan
President Hamid Karzai has asked that U.S. troops stop patrolling
Afghan villages and pull back to U.S. bases.
OK. Let’s pull our troops back to the relative safety of their
bases and see if the crack Afghan security forces can handle the
fight against the more-determined Taliban enemy.
My guess is
that after the first big wave of Taliban attacks and after a threat
against his own life, the tough-talking Karzai will quickly have
a change of heart and beg U.S. commanders to get their men back
into the field.
As noted in
the commentary below, my preference is for the withdrawal of all
U.S. ground forces from Afghanistan. It’s time for Afghan
government leaders and security forces to carry their own water.
23 UPDATE: KABUL: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was
expected to be charged with not 16 but 17 counts of murder today
over the killings of mostly women and children in a shooting rampage
in southern Afghanistan.
U.S. Navy and
Marine Corps personnel climb a ravine in Afghanistan's Helmand province
during a mid-February joint patrol with Afghan soldiers. (U.S. Defense
ground troops out
March 7, 2012
Fla. — I’m with Cal Thomas and an increasing number
of conservatives who think this way:
high time for our government to pull U.S. ground troops out of that
God-forsaken land called Afghanistan.
In his nationally
syndicated column, Thomas commented on Afghanistan in the wake of
the ridiculous controversy over the recent burning of several copies
of the Quran, the Muslims’ holy book, at a U.S. military base
prisoners, our enemies over there, apparently were using the Qurans
to exchange messages, I’d say that U.S. personnel were fully
justified in getting rid of the books, but the crazy Islamists see
it differently — as an affront to them, to their culture,
to their “bible” and to their religion.
And, as usual,
our leaders — both civilian and military — have apologized
profusely for the incident. The apologies have been sickening to
watch, hear and read about.
After more than 10 years of U.S. fighting and nation-building in
Afghanistan (the U.S. invasion, the result of the 9/11 terrorist
attacks on the United States, began on Oct. 1, 2001), I’d
say we’ve done quite enough over there and have sacrificed
more than enough U.S. blood and treasure (at least 1,780 U.S. military
personnel dead, thousands more wounded and billions of U.S. dollars
spent on military operations and foreign aid).
The anti-American terrorist leaders, including al-Qaida leader
Osama bin Laden, who used Afghanistan has a staging ground have
essentially been eliminated; the Islamic and brutal Taliban who
ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al-Qaida and bin Laden, were tossed
out and dismantled, though not totally vanquished; and the people
of Afghanistan were given an opportunity for a better life and better
nation, courtesy mostly of the United States and its too-charitable
After all of that, there’s really no reason to keep a huge
U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. The purpose of our military
is to kill people and break things — not to serve in an international
Meals on Wheels role, not to build schools and water projects, not
to fight with one hand tied behind its back, not to support a corrupt
Afghan government and certainly not to protect and bow down to an
Islamic culture and Quran at all costs.
Even with the ruthless Taliban still active and infrastructure
still a mess, it’s time to let the ungrateful leaders, police,
military, institutions and people of Afghanistan fly on their own.
If we, as in U.S. forces, still need to conduct military operations
against the Taliban and terrorists still harbored in Afghanistan,
we can do it with bombers and fighter jets, with missile-carrying
drone aircraft, with special forces and with the assets of the CIA.
Restrained even by their own government, our U.S. military personnel
— God bless them all — have done a wonderful and an
incredible job in Afghanistan and have sacrificed so much in the
process. It’s time now to bring them home, and from this little
corner of America, I will say to them and to those who previously
served there: “Thank you.”
End” sign appeared recently as an addition to the street sign
that marks the entrance to the writer’s street. Part of the
sign has been blurred to protect the innocent — and perhaps
not-so-innocent. (Joe Braddy photo)
de sac street
sign addition makes
March 14, 2012
Fla. — By act of our county’s streets and signs departments,
I, my wife and my immediate neighbors are official “dead-enders.”
is in the literal or figurative sense remains to be determined.
How is this
“dead-ender” status possible? Well, suddenly and without
warning, a “Dead End” sign appeared recently on the
street sign that introduces the cul de sac that I and about 14 other
people live on in unincorporated Winter Haven, Fla.
that be in Polk County apparently decided that motorists should
know that if they enter our cul de sac, the only way out is the
way they have to come in. (Maybe it will keep out people who really
don’t belong here or have no clue where they’re going.)
The first time
I noticed the bright yellow “Dead End” sign, on a Sunday
morning while heading off to church, I thought of the term “dead-ender,”
which is used to describe people without a purpose or path, a person
without a future, a person just subsisting and not really living.
It’s not a term, at least in the negative sense, that I would
use to describe myself or, fortunately, anyone else in my little
So, in that
sense, “dead-ender” doesn’t really apply to us,
but in another sense, because I, my wife and my neighbors live on
an officially and newly proclaimed “Dead End” street,
we could be, literally, “dead-enders.”
Does that make
sense? Probably not. Now, I’m just rambling.
our street’s “Dead End” sign for the first time,
driving through part of our subdivision and part of an adjacent
one, I noticed other “Dead End” signs that I don’t
recall ever seeing. Either someone with the county decided that
it’s about time all dead-end streets are officially marked
or decided finally to follow an obscure county sign ordinance to
the letter, or the signs departments got a really good eBay deal
on a bunch of “Dead End” signs.
But, in seeing
all the newly posted “Dead End” signs, I also noticed
that they were posted among other signs — new or old, I don’t
know — that marked streets as having “No Outlet.”
That begs the
following question of great philosophical importance: Just what’s
the difference between a “Dead End” street and one with
Maybe one day,
when I have absolutely nothing better to do, I'll put on my journalist’s
hat once again, call someone with the county and find out.
blogger Andrew Breitbart died suddenly Thursday morning (March 1)
in Los Angeles. He was 43.
Funny, I didn’t
know anything about Andrew Breitbart
March 2, 2012
Fla. — Just who was Andrew Breitbart and why, as a conservative,
hadn’t I heard about this “thorn in the side of the
U.S. left” until his death early Thursday (March 1)?
43, died suddenly of natural causes (perhaps related to heart problems
mentioned in the media) while walking near his house in Los Angeles.
Had he not
died, I likely would not know now that he was a conservative blogger,
journalist, website publisher and pundit. And, apparently, he was
well known and influential in conservative or “right-wing”
Times, a London-based newspaper with U.S. editions, attached the
“thorn” label to Breitbart. It said he spoke last week
of waging “war” on the “institutional left.”
news reports, Breitbart helped start the now-left-leaning Huffington
Post website and then moved to the more conservative Drudge Report.
He is credited with being the first to reveal that Democrat Congressman
Anthony Weiner was sending lewd pictures of himself to women, resulting
in Weiner’s resignation in June 2011.
started his own website, Big
Hollywood, “with the aim of causing a stir in liberal-dominated
Hollywood,” according to the Financial Times.
hailed by Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt
Gingrich. Romney called him a “fearless conservative,”
while Gingrich described him as the “most innovative pioneer
in conservative activist social media in America.”
Hmmm ... Perhaps
the legacy of his work might be worth checking out.
So, back to
the original question: Why haven’t I heard about Breitbart
until now? Probably, it’s because I’ve tuned out a lot
of the news media, particulary the electronic variety, since I left
daily newspaper work almost 13 months ago. It’s rare that
I watch television or listen to the radio.
I used to be
a talk-radio “junkie,” but no more. At least not at
this time. Perhaps one day I’ll tune in again, and my main
man will be, as before, THE main man in conservative talk, Rush
might be hope yet for Cuban people
Feb. 4, 2012
Fla. — I saw an article in a Euro-centric newspaper that Cuba,
with the Marxist Castro brothers Fidel and Raúl getting older,
more mellow and less influential, appears to be on a path to political
liberalization, opening a way to the return of many Cuban exiles
in this country and in others.
was complete with a photo of Cubans in and around some 1950s-model
U.S.-made cars that thy somehow keep running.)
fond of the U.S. concept of liberalism, but in the case of Cuba
and its poor, oppressed and downtrodden people, liberalization away
from Marxism and communism would be a very good thing.
the United States will lift the now-silly economic and trade embargo
that has been in effect as a form of punishment and political statement
against Cuba since the Kennedy administration. I’ve advocated
dropping the embargo for at least 15 years.
actually has lost its teeth through the years with the passage of
several pieces of U.S. legislation that ease elements of the sanctions
and create trade opportunities in Cuba for a variety of American
businesses and industries.
On a related
topic, and at the risk of sounding a bit colonial, I’ve always
thought that Cuba would’ve made a nice additional pickup for
these United States. After all, we did occupy it at one time (Guantanamo
Bay is still ours), and the naturally beautiful island nation is
only about 90 miles off the coast of Florida — certainly a
lot closer to contiguous states than Hawaii.
But hold on
there, folks. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’m not advocating
giving up Hawaii for Cuba. Who says we couldn’t have had both?
a year of great change, God provides
Feb. 8, 2012
Fla. — Today, Feb. 8, marks a year since I worked my last
day at the News Chief newspaper, my employer for many years, and
effectively retired from daily newspaper work.
It has been a
year of great change. And it has been, without a doubt, the fastest-passing
year of my life.
God is good.
God has provided.
God has blessed.
For that and
for so much more, I am grateful.
the News Chief still with The NYT Co.? The signage says so
a new post, let’s get some more mileage out of the NYT-Halifax
artwork (above), shall we?
they didn’t know better, anyone passing by The Ledger’s
Winter Haven newspaper bureau, the one that serves as the new home
of the News Chief newspaper (my former longtime employer), will
think that the two sister papers still are owned by The New York
because the big brown sign outside the building at 455 Sixth St.,
N.W. (U.S. Highway 17) still includes type that says the papers
are “A Part of The New York Times Co.”
course, they’re not, and they haven been since early January,
when a company called Halifax Media Group closed on the purchase
of several NYT newspapers stretching from Florida to California.
old signage — in front of the office and at another side entrance
— should’ve been changed or at least covered up shortly,
if not immediately, after the sale was closed, because what it includes
now is old information, not the facts as we know them today. And
that’s what a newspaper is supposed to deal in — the
facts. My thinking is that that should include any office signage
presented to the public. —
Joe Braddy (March 11, 2012)
nothing good about smoking
to read about the youth-oriented Polk County SWAT Kicking Butts
event, scheduled for March 17 in Winter Haven.
stands for Students Working Against Tobacco. I applaud these students
and their efforts to make Florida tobacco free.
grew up with all parents and most stepparents smoking, but since
I’ve been away from that kind of environment (for more than
31 years now), I’ve come to absolutely loathe cigarettes and
all things tobacco.
detest the annoying smell and smoke of cigarettes, the way it makes
me smell when I’m around it, and the yellowish and stinking
mess that nicotine makes of anything it touches.
shake my head about the gazillions of dollars spent on cigarettes
and other tobacco products. It’s a complete waste of an important
and limited resource, money that could be better used for more sensible
I get both angry and sad when I think about those sickened and killed
as a result of smoking. My mother died of cancer brought on by a
lifetime of smoking, and I’m sure that cigarettes played a
role in my father’s fatal heart attack.
can understand and forgive to an extent older people who continue
to smoke, those who came up in a time when smoking was culturally
acceptable and when the adverse health effects of the habit weren’t
as fully understood or publicized. (Though doesn’t common
sense suggest that inhaling smoke and nasty byproducts might be
bad for you?)
when I see a young person smoke, a piece of me wants to run up to
them, get in his or her face like an Army drill sergeant and scream:
“You idiot, are you nuts? Don’t you know that smoking
is bad for you?”
I’ll do that sometime. Who knows, maybe it’ll save a
life. — JB (March 17, 2012)
Dolphins, Tebow fan is a bit unsettled
Tebow a New York Jet? Please, say it isn’t so!
it is so, after the Denver Broncos and New York Jets announced a
Wednesday (March 21) trade for Tebow (shown above).
big-time, free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning (most recently of
the Indianapolis Colts) agreed to sign with the Broncos, Tebow immediately
became expendable, despite leading Denver to the second round of
the NFL playoffs last season.
was easy for me, a huge fan of the Florida Gators, to pull for ex-Gator
Tebow as an orange-and-blue Bronco, but my now-favorite NFL quarterback
as a Jet? For this longtime fan of the Miami Dolphins, who share
a division with the Jets, Tebow playing in and for New York will
be tough to stomach.
all the NFL teams and locales, why did Tebow, the fine young Christian,
have to land with the Jets in New York City?
well, maybe he'll be a good influence on the city and its people.
— JB (March 22, 2012)
of the worst things about the trade involving Tim Tebow is that
is has made him sports headline news again, giving hateful commentators
yet another opportunity to spew their venom against him.
just one appalling quote that showed up in a “crawl”
on ESPN at midday on Thursday (March 22): “Tim Tebow isn’t
bad. He’s God-awful.”
course, the commentator (I wish I had the name so I could report
it here) was mocking Tebow and his Christian faith. At the same
time, though, the commentator was mocking Tebow’s savior —
but Christians know what the Bible says about that. — JB
promotes core American values
the U.S. Constitution and America’s core traditional values.
not to love about that?
the general purpose behind the Winter Haven 9/12 Project Group and
others like it across the nation.
project groups had their genesis with conservative broadcaster Glenn
Beck three years ago. (See the website here.)
The name comes from the premise that on 9/12/2001, the day following
the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans of all
faiths, views, walks of life and political pursuasions were of one
accord and united. (Remember the “United We Stand” T-shirts
and bumper stickers?)
Winter Haven group meets each Thursday, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at
the Chain O’ Lakes Complex at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and
U.S. Highway 17. Meetings are open to the public and no admission
March 22 meeting will feature a presentation by Maureen Seibold
For details about the Winter Haven 9/12 Project Group,
e-mail member Tom Williams at Williams7098@tampabay.rr.com.
— JB (March 18, 2012)
much to do and so very little time
a personal prayer that I don’t mind sharing ...
Lord, there are so many things to do and so little time in which
to do them. If, in your wisdom, you deem us unworthy of more hours
in each day, please make the hours we do have go further so that
we can do more and do more for you. And we’ll be careful to
give you all the praise and glory. Amen.” — JB (March
would compose your life’s music?
had breakfast with a good friend in Lakeland recently and came across
the following message on a business sign:
trouble with reality is that there’s no background music.”
But I thought that if I were to have a contemporary composer write
the music to my life — my reality — it would have to
be either John Williams (the “Star Wars,” “Superman”
and “Indiana Jones” sagas) or James Horner (“Titanic,”
“Braveheart,” “Field of Dreams”).
reminded me — it’s interesting how one thought leads
to another — of a high school yearbook entry made by an older
friend and mentor way back in the spring of 1978. He wrote that
when the movie of his life is made (“starring Al
Pacino, of course”), my character would sure to have a leading
would play me in the movie of my life? Probably some confused
and goofy-looking “B” actor. No
actor in the class of Pacino would bother with the script. —
Joe Braddy (Feb. 23, 2012)
on TV are amusing
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
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)
responsible: Pay back what you owe
an important message for anyone who owes anybody any money:
the responsible thing, meet your obligations and pay it back! —
JB (March 22, 2012)
great book from a former Winter Haven newspaper editor (and good
excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas:
good source of news from, for and about the right: http://www.1776coalition.com/
fine portraits and quality commercial photography: http://www.pezzimenti.com/
interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln:
who loved our 40th president will love this site:
great, useful and trendy technology:
great community project: http://ritzoncentral.com/
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
supper out: Manny’s Original Chophouse, 1100 Third
St., S.W. (U.S. Highway 17), Winter Haven. The food is good and
the prices are right.
marquee outside a local personal storage business: “Land
of the free because of the brave.” (It’s on bumper stickers,
local church sign: “Spend less time on Facebook and
more time in His book.”
church sign: “Questions are in life. Answers are
another area church sign: “God isn’t withholding
anything from you. He’s holding it for you.”
open invitation to attend: http://centralbaptistchurchwh.com/
For the “Vote 4 Energy” campaign, which was launched
Jan. 4 to promote more domestic energy production and sensible energy
policy. A “Vote 4 Energy” also would mean, by and large,
a vote for conservative candidates, because the liberal version
of energy policy — windmills, limited domestic oil drilling,
oil pipeline opposition, no new oil refineries, carbon taxes, “global
warming” fixes and Chevy Volts — is anything but sensible.
“Vote 4 Energy” is being funded by the American Petroleum
Institute, the lobbying arm of Big Oil, but that’s OK. Attacked
at almost every turn, Big Oil has every right to enter the political
fray and ask Americans to “demand smarter energy policy.”
On the Web: vote4energy.org
To “corporate welfare,” including any received by Big
Oil and ethanol producers. Huge companies don’t need subsidies
from the taxpayers, and besides, our debt-ridden federal government
can’t afford them.
To Catholic and other church leaders for taking on the Obama administration
over its plan to require require church-run hospitals and universities
to give their employees free contraception. The plan, since modified
by the administration following mounting opposition, was a frontal
attack on religious freedom in this country.
To the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its approval of the
first new nuclear power project since 1978. Nuclear power sure beats
windmills as a source of alternative energy.
To the immorality of the U.S. entertainment industry and most of
the people involved in it. The drug culture embraced by the industry
no doubt contributed in large part to the early death of singer/actress
Whitney Houston, 48. These comments in no way absolve Houston of
her responsibility for the self-destructive decisions she made in
her life after rising to the top of the pop music world. They include
her inconceivable decision to hook up with and marry that loser
of a drug user, singer Bobby Brown.
Quran of Islam
is a dangerous book
March 17, 2012
Fla. — I originally wrote this in response to an article that
listed only positive statements from the Quran (or Koran), the guiding
book of Islam. The article described 10 positive statements made
by Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Those statements, according to
the writer, show the commonalities among Islam, Christianity and
The writer avoided the Quran’s contrary instructions.
Quran, quite frankly, is a very dangerous book. Despite many positive
religious instructions, it contains many that validate the actions
of terrorists around the world, and it degrades women.
the Quran uses the same chapter-and-verse format as the Bible, I
will include the same style to support my statements. Readers can
verify them in the Qurans found in any library. Or, you can download
your own copy free of charge. There are many free sources on the
Internet. I downloaded my first copy from the Gutenberg
site that has thousands of free books for downloading. The translator
of my copy was J.M. Rodwell, a minister as I recall.
In the Quran: “We send not a prophet with miracles, but to
strike terror” 17:59; defines infidels: “who say Jesus
is a messiah” 5:17; slay infidels: “strike off their
heads …” 47:4-6.
The Quran teaches male superiority, 4:34 and 2:228; women have only
a half vote before a jury, 2:282; instructions for scourging one’s
wife, 4:34; wives may only inherit half of what males may inherit;
authorizes polygamy, 4:3; validates slavery, 33:50; permission given
for sex with any owned slaves, 4:24.
Quran teaches religious intolerance: Only Muslims enter Heaven,
3:85; Muslims forbidden from taking Jews or Christians as friends,
5:51; lying is permissible to one’s enemies, 24:11.
Many “perpetual” virgins (They will become “freshened”
to virginity continually) await Muslims in Heaven; 56:35; wine,
forbidden on Earth, will be abundant in Heaven, 47:16 and 82:25;
and it will never make one drunk, 37:45. The story of 72 virgins
is not true precisely. The number was added by Muhammad’s
followers later. The Quran does describe “wide-eyed”
maidens for their pleasure. If boys are preferred, they will be
provided. I swear, this is true.
These things are not in my Bible. Are they in yours?
Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can
be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
oil ‘speculators’ an energy policy sideshow
HAVEN, Fla. — Bill Nelson is the perfect example of the politician
who will attempt to score some quick and easy election-year points
by pushing frivolous and gimmicky “solutions” to very
real and very serious national problems.
In a recent e-mail blast, Florida’s senior U.S. senator reminded
us of the painful reality of rising fuel prices and news reports
that a gallon of gasoline could cost motorists $5 or more by summertime.
“That’s outrageous — and unjustified,” Nelson
the Democrat wrote in dramatic fashion.
But in the balance of his message, Nelson didn’t direct his
fury against an abominable U.S. energy policy that stifles domestic
oil production. He didn’t rant against national leaders who
scorn “Big Oil” and hold oil companies up to public
ridicule. He didn’t boldly take on the environmentalists and
“global-warming” alarmists and truthfully tell about
their role in making America a nation too dependent on foreign energy
sources and weak in the process.
We wouldn’t really expect that of a senator with liberal leanings,
would we? That’s not in their playbook.
No, Nelson’s “fix” for high fuel prices is proposed
legislation that targets the new energy bogeyman: The oil “speculator.”
will take more than a mop and bucket to clease the White House of
the sordid policies, programs and ideology that emanate from there
in the current administration.
do you cleanse
a soiled White House?
2 , 2012
JAMES W. MacMEEKIN III
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Registered voters, and
all others of mysterious heritages, will be faced with difficult
choices come Nov. 6, 2012. Will communism be fully embraced? Or,
will Armageddon represent the proverbial and decisive battle between
the forces of good and evil?
Whatever. The choices seem more a conundrum than
a cleansing of ideologies. In either event, the White House will
stand embarrassed, soiled by the recent rape of constitutional tenets.
Will Time ever present itself, demanding that the
White House be cleansed from the stench of irreverence, from the
debauchery of hallowed halls and the desecration of everything the
Oval Office represents?
We are burdened with a White House resident who utilizes
a treasured desk, where the Emancipation Proclamation came to life,
in a manner obscene to all, all save those without respect for historical
and constitutional grandeur.
How can a divided nation apologize to the president
who freed our enslaved citizens for the behavior of a beneficiary
of that proclamation?
These are stains that never can be washed away. Words
and actions, laws and regulations eventually might be erased from
the books, but Nov. 2, 2008, will remain, for the second time in
America’s history, as a day that will live in infamy.
W. MacMeekin III, of Winter Haven, Fla., is an author with five
books to his credit. They include “Lincoln Laughing.”
A Korean War-era veteran of the U.S. Air Force, MacMeekin is a former
investment manager and educator. He can be reached by e-mail at
recent events, will Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood
be forever linked in our minds?
group came so close to doing the right thing
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I had plans Friday to write a piece about the Susan G. Komen
for the Cure foundation and how pleased I was to learn that the nation’s
leading breast cancer charity had severed financial ties with Planned
I’m glad I didn’t. A follow-up would’ve been necessary.
This morning I read that the Komen foundation leaders, under
intense criticism and pressure from social media and other corners, had
reversed course. The foundation will continue to provide grant money to the
abortion-providing Planned Parenthood, supposedly for its breast
Not only has my pleasure with the Komen foundation turned to
displeasure, I am truly disappointed and disheartened that its leaders, fearing
loss of the almighty funding dollar, succumbed under Planned Parenthood-led
pressure to retain the foundation’s original grant rules. Those rules flow
allow the flow of foundation money to Planned Parenthood, while the grant rule
changes announced earlier in the week would’ve cut off that flow.
In essence, the Komen foundation leaders took what amounted to be a highly
moral stance toward its relationship with Planned Parenthood and
then retreated, coming down squarely on the side of mammon — the
pursuit and love of money.
Tax season and
presidential politics combine to fire up the debate about the U.S.
tax code and options for replacing it.
the tax code; ponder move to national sales tax
Feb. 7, 2012
JAMES W. MacMEEKIN III
Fla. — Reducing the federal budget to meaningful programs
is only one of the many chores required of a U.S House and a Senate
that, conservatives hope, both will be controlled by Republicans
following the Nov. 6 election.
Confronting the Internal Revenue Service — and its 40,000-plus
pages of rules and regulations — will test the political fortitude
of the newly elected. But, it must be done.
The U.S Department of the Treasury employs about 150,000 individuals,
including the new 16,000-member IRS audit force, which will cling
to their leader’s economically disastrous tax agenda to the ruination
of any return to full employment.
The IRS must be virtually eliminated. The income tax must be completely
Angel” was painted by Pietro da Cortona in 1656.
me tell you about my guardian angel, Andrew
Feb. 5, 2012
Fla. — One of the things enjoyed by children is being told
that each of us has a guardian angel watching over us. When young,
we have fun thinking of something like that, and it stimulates our
imagination. As adults, though, I think many people would be embarrassed
to admit to believing in a guardian angel. The world of adults has
hardened us to focus on the toughness of realities, causing many
of us to relegate such ideas to the shadows and privacy of our minds.
For a large part of my life, I rarely spoke of religious matters.
I am not sure how long I was outside the church of my youth, but
it had to be 30 years or more. Still, the roots of my childhood
training stood waiting patiently for the chance to come to life.
Sometime in my early senior years, I found my way back with help
from my late wife. The time was right. The roots sprang to life.
It was a while, though, before I developed a relationship with my
guardian angel. That happened in my 70s. What made me more aware
of my angel was those little memory events we seniors are prone
to — forgetting car keys or the grocery list when leaving
to go shopping, for example. Forgetting why I entered a room is
another one. It doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes
to the bathroom for some reason; just other rooms.
I found myself saying “Thank you” each time I would
be reminded where these things were, or why I entered the room.
It seemed as though my childhood angel was letting me know he was
still hanging around. He had not forgotten me even if I seemed to
have forgotten him. As a retired guidance counselor, I had enough
psychology courses to expect folks to give scientific explanations
for the memory prompting.
When I think of memory prompting, I think of all the cartoons depicting
a little angel on the right shoulder and a little devil in the red
suit with his pitchfork on the left. Freud would say that his Superego
(conscience), Ego and the Id (“it” in German) were at
work. These would be forces from within a person. I prefer the more
At one point, I asked my angel what his name was. I told him I didn't
want to say “Hey, you” when speaking to him. After a
few weeks with no answer, I grew impatient. I said I would give
him a name. I remembered reading a story told by Joan Wester Anderson
about Mother Angelica, the television nun. She was said to have
chosen her religious name because of having had an angel-contact
experience. I decided that I would call my angel Angelo. I told
him that I hoped he was Italian.
Several weeks passed with me using that name, until one day when
I received a memory prompt that what I wanted was in my trailer.
As I moved from my Florida room up the steps into the trailer, I
said “Thank you, Angelo” as usual. This time, however,
the name “Andrew” popped out of my mouth. I was stunned.
I had not used that name for so many years, I could not remember.
I said, “OK. I get it. Andrew it is. I guess you’re
would classify me as crazy. It doesn't bother me. I have developed
a thick skin when it comes to criticism. I know I am right. That
is what matters. I think that God’s grace has strengthened
me in these recent years. Not only have I been a regular church-goer,
but for five years, I have even served as a eucharistic minister,
helping to serve the blessed sacrement at mass most weekends.
When I was in college, I had an inflated opinion of teachers and
professors. I felt that they were all “brains” who got
nothing but A's for marks. Well, one day my professor, a man with
a doctorate degree, admitted that he was terrible at math and had
failed it. This fact impacted me. It helped change my life. I have
since recognized the value of personal honesty as a means of helping
people to acquire realistic perceptions. Hence, this article.
I encourage all of you reading this to fight the tendancy to conceal
any relationship you might feel toward your guardian angel. You
might never get a message coming from your own lips as to what his
— or her — name is, but please acknowledge your angel’s
presence and willingness to help you.
Jesus might have given you a get-into-heaven-free card by accepting
Him as your Savior, but remember that we can blow it all by acting
in an irresponsible and sinful manner. I think it pays to have someone
on the inside to keep reminding us of things. Angels don’t
just remind us of car keys. They also remind us of the good things
that our Lord expects of us.
Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can
be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
is an image from the website of Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney, who on Tuesday (Jan. 31, 2012) won the Florida Republican
presidential primary by a wide margin.
Florida, GOP nod seems a lock for Romney
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Republican
presidential preference primary (my vote was for the no-nonsense Ron Paul as
sort of a statement both against the GOP establishment and a very weak field of
candidates), but I’m not surprised Romney took Florida convincingly.
In really a four-person race, Romney received 46.4 percent
of the Florida GOP vote. His closest rival, former U.S. House Speaker Newt
Gingrich, could muster only 31.9 percent despite a solid victory in the South
Carolina primary just 10 days earlier; while former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of
Pennsylvania and Paul, a Texas congressman, finished with 13.3 percent and 7
percent of the vote, respectively.
What contributed to Tuesday’s lopsided victory for Romney,
the businessman and former Massachusetts governor? Here’s how I see it:
loss possible when exercising some discipline
Dec. 31, 2011
“17 USED TREADMILLS”
That’s 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
“Now, that says a lot,”
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 — not that there’s anything wrong
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
And it told
me that at least 17 people in the area likely gave up on their resolution
and didn’t want to have a treadmill around the house to remind them
(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?)
I’m here to say that
anybody — anybody — can lose weight and get fit and that nobody
— absolutely nobody — needs to waste hard-earned money on expensive
exercise equipment to do it. (Sorry, manufacturers and retailers.)
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. You can go here
for a larger version of this illustration.
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)
cue, ‘Obamaspeak’ follows failure of budget ‘Super
Nov. 27, 2011
JAMES W. MacMEEKIN III
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.
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.
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)
Security (1935-2011): Where is the rage?
Oct. 8, 2011
JAMES W. MacMEEKIN III
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.
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
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 PolkCommentary.com
for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is
permitted without written consent of the artist.)
with all my heart that one cannot be America’s president without
a belief in God, without the strength that your faith gives you.”
— George H.W. Bush (born 1924), 41st U.S.
the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase,
just take the first step.” — Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. (1929-1968), American civil rights leader
my freedom. I love my America.” — Jessi Lane
Adams (often quoted but, strangely, no bio about this person
is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable
form of government ever devised by man.” — Ronald
Reagan (1911-2004), 40th U.S. president
day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.”
— Doug Firebaugh, author and motivational
How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are
in possession of, and which no other people on Earth enjoy!”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of
the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president
never too late to be what you might have been.” — Mary
Ann Evans, aka George Eliot (1819-1880), British
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
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
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
amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the
credit.” — Harry S. Truman (1884-1982),
33rd U.S. president
all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
— Thomas Edison (1847-1931), American inventor,
founder of General Electric
Thanks be to
God for his unspeakable gift. — 2 Corinthians 9:15
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”
sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity
in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill,
former prime minister of Great Britain
not to become a man of success but a man of value.” —
Albert Einstein, mathematician and physicist
you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in
the first place.” — Unknown
will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our
people.” — George W. Bush, 43rd U.S.
was first an amateur.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882), American essayist, lecturer and poet
“Work spares us
from three evils: Boredom, vice and need.” —
in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
— Henry David Thoreau, American author
man is one who can lay a firm foundation with bricks that others
throw at him.” — David Brinkley (1920-2003),
About the Bible
... “In regard to this great Book, I have but to say, it is
the best gift God has given to men. All the good Saviour gave to
the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could
not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s
welfare, here and hereafter, are to found portrayed in it.”
– Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th president
of the United States
are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and
laziness.” — Franz Kafka (1883-1924),
German-language author of short stories and novels
aims at excellence will be above mediocrity; who aims at mediocrity
will be far short of it.” — Burmese saying
love of wealth makes bitter men; the love of God, better men.”
— W.L. Hudson
fight for freedom, then they begin to accummulate laws to take it
away from themselves.” — Unknown
reason Christianity is the best friend of government is because
Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of
the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president
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
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
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)
only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
— John Powell, British statesman
person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten
out almost every other area in his life.” — Billy
Graham, American evangelist
time is never found again.” —
Benjamin Franklin, American patriot, statesman
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)
I live in my
own little world, but it’s OK; they know me here.
is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit
wake up grumpy. Other times I let her sleep.
fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.
were walking down the road and one was a salted.
for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping
when they ran out of money. — Anonymous, but contributed by
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
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
with no humor is like a job that is no fun.
percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
you hear about the two radio antennas that got married? The wedding
was terrible, but the reception was excellent!
might be targeting Tea Party groups
doesn’t give us a warm and fuzzy feeling about our federal
Tea Party chapters claim IRS attempts to sabotage nonprofit status”
the report (read it here)
by Perry Chiaramonte of Fox News, “Tea Party chapters around
the nation are blasting the Internal Revenue Service after the federal
agency sent them letters demanding information about their politics,
contributors and even family members.”
conceived more than 200 years ago on the premise that everyone has
the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,”
has gotten to be too big, too intrusive, too overbearing, too coercive
and, increasingly, too menacing.
Is it too late
to dial back the size and reach of the federal government? I hope
not. — Joe Braddy (March 4, 2012)
Earth won’t be pleasant
It seems lately
that the words that disturb us the most are found on stickers on
vehicle rear windows or back bumpers.
space addressed a bumper sticker that said: “Instead
of being born again, why not just grow up?”
what was found Feb. 17 on a car being driven by someone with obvious
on the rapture. The rest of us will have the Earth to ourselves.”
with the sticker, and those who find it amusing, have no comprehension
of what the rapture is and the terrible events it will trigger.
To be brief
and to be clear, post rapture, Earth will not be a pleasant place.
No, it will be an awful place.
While the word
“rapture” isn’t in the Bible, it conveys the biblical
teaching that at some point, perhaps soon, Jesus Christ will call
the living Christians — and the dead in Christ — out
of this world to meet him in the air and be taken away to Heaven.
The Holy Spirit’s influence in the world will be removed as
well. And afterward will come seven years of “tribulation,”
a word that is found in the Bible. God will judge the world
and those who have rejected His offer of salvation.
would want to be left behind to live in a world void of the evil-restraining
influence of Christians and the Holy Spirit?
the answer is those who would adorn their vehicles with bumper stickers
that mock the rapture and, in essense, mock God. —
Joe Braddy (Feb. 19, 2012)
Words on sign
bring a smile
On the way
to church the other day, I saw at another church a sign that brought
a smile to my face:
HALLELU. THANK YOU LORD FOR WHAT YOU DO.
a cute message, one of gratefulness, but if I could make a suggestion,
I would add another “GLORY.” Then you would have:
GLORY HALLELU. THANK YOU LORD FOR WHAT YOU DO.
That, I think, has a nice ring to it.
— JB (Feb. 21, 2012)
Almost by accident
tonight, I stumbled across the big, bright and beautiful stars.
Oh, I knew
they were up there in the heavens, hung perfectly by God in His
glorious creation, but tonight they seemed extra wondrous.
In a change
of routine, I went outside around 7:30 p.m. to cool down in the
cool night air following a round of exercises, and when I looked
out and up, there they were. Those stars.
the light of the moon wasn’t around to interfere, and the
sky was so clear, the stars seemed to be extra bright. And extra
big. And extra beautiful.
I am thankful
for the stars — and the little time I could spend with them
tonight. — JB (Jan. 16, 2012)
holidays , 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.
our God is with us, yes he is with us still. Immanuel, he has not
left us, and he never will.”
Immanuel (or Emmanuel) means “God with us” and is another
name for Jesus Christ.
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.
“His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He'll
carry us when we can’t carry on.” — From “His
Strength Is Perfect,” a song by Steven Curtis Chapman
“He was there all the time ... waiting patiently in line.”
– From “He Was There All the Time,” a contemporary
like these I have a Savior, In times like these I have an anchor;
...” — From “In Times Like These,” a gospel