U.S.-Afghanistan security deal OK; bring troops home

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — It’s tough to quibble with the long-term security agreement President Obama just signed on behalf of the United States with Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan.

After more than 10 years of war against terrorists based in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan, it’s time for most of the U.S. military personnel there to come home.

If this security/military agreement hastens the departure of U.S. troops from that God-forsaken part of the world, so be it. The United States has taken care of the security needs in Afghanistan and the Afghan people for far too long; it’s time for the Afghans to take care of themselves and, if they have the will and the stomach for it, to bear the brunt of the fight against the terrorists and Islamofascists in their midst.

On the subject of Karzai, it’s interesting that he’s referred to and has the title of president of Afghanistan. Given the makeup of that country, with warlords controlling parts of it, the Taliban controlling other parts and Afghan forces controlling so little of it, in reality Karzai is just the president of Kabul, the capital city. And it might be a stretch to say even that.

Gov. Rick Scott did students and parents a huge favor Friday (April 27) when he vetoed a bill that would have given the University of Florida and Florida State University special authority to raise tuition rates. (Official photo, Florida Governor’s Office)

Gov. Scott was right to veto tuition rate scheme for UF, FSU

Saturday, April 28, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott deserves a big public pat on the back for vetoing a bill that would have lifted the limit on annual tuition rate increases that the University of Florida and Florida State University can impose.

The cap on tuition rate increases at Florida’s public universities already is a whopping 15 percent — greatly exceeding the current rate of inflation — but leaders at UF and FSU, backed by the board that oversees the state university system, wanted the power to charge more.

In pushing for the tuition bill, officials at the state’s top two research universities argued that they need the authority to charge “market rate” tuition to compete with the nation’s other major research schools. They said the higher tuition rates are especially necessary in a climate of reduced state funding for universities.

But Scott wouldn’t have any of that, rightly coming down on the side of the students and families that actually have to pay for university tuition, books and a host of other education-related expenses.

It is “clear how difficult it is for our students, and in many cases their families, to afford the costs of higher education,” Scott wrote in his Friday (April 27) veto message.

“I have strong concerns for the debt burden on our students and the number of graduates struggling to find jobs within their fields of study,” the governor wrote.

Arrogant, spoiled and insulated from the realities of the private sector and a very poor economy, too many college and unversity leaders see money as the primary foundation of a solid institution and quality education. And they lose sight of the fact that someone other than them — students, parents, taxapayers — actually have to pay for that education.

It’s good to see someone like Scott — Who better than the governor? — come along and put these university officials in their place and turn back another money-grabbing scheme.

Higher education is good and important (especially if the liberal indoctrination can be filtered out), but parents shouldn’t have to go into debt for years and students shouldn’t have to go into debt for life to pay for it.

Would Ronald Reagan be flattered with his name attached to a proposal for a big-time tax increase on the rich? We don’t think so.

No, Reagan would not be a champion for the ‘Buffett rule’

Thursday, April 12, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — President Obama was arrogant and flat-out wrong last week when he said the U.S. Supreme Court would be out of bounds to overturn his “Obamacare” health insurance legislation. (See the post below.)

On Wednesday (April 11), the president was just absurd to suggest that our late and great former president, Ronald Reagan, would support the “Buffet rule” tax on the rich.

Obama, the socialist, invoked the name of Reagan, the tax-cutting conservative, in an attempt to promote the “Buffett rule.” That’s the name given to a proposal by billionaire investor Warren Buffett to set a 30 percent minimum tax, with no loopholes, on millionaires and billionaires. Buffett’s name is tied to the proposal because it was he who complained publicly that his assistant paid federal taxes at a higher rate than he did.

Speaking in a staged setting, among a group of millionaires and their lowly paid secretaries, Obama committed what conservatives can only view as political blasphemy in suggesting that the “Buffett rule” really be called the “Reagan rule.”

How could he do that? Someone on his team dug up a 1985 Reagan speech that had the late president saying it was “crazy” that in some cases the wealthiest Americans were paying “nothing” in taxes while bus drivers were paying “10 percent of their salary.”

The record shows that Reagan actually did use the words “crazy” and “nothing” in a June 1985 speech about taxes, tax fairness and “unproductive” tax loopholes for the rich. However, the record also clearly shows that as a governor of California, as a two-time candidate for president and then as a two-term president, Reagan believed that Americans at every income level were paying too much in federal taxes. And he worked hard to get tax rates reduced — for everyone.

Consider this Reagan quote, from remarks he made in September 1985 at a symposium at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville: “Cutting the tax rates has opened the floodgates on entrepreneurship in our country.”

It’s a quote the Obama team won’t be using as it seeks to punish the rich.

Did Reagan support fairness in the U.S. tax code? Absolutely. Did Reagan engage, like the Obama adminstration is doing, in class warfare against the nation’s wealthiest citizens? Absolutely not.

The commentary that can be written about the “Buffett rule,” federal taxes and Obama is almost endless, but these points quickly come to mind:

1. Warren Buffett, among the richest of the nation’s rich, might very well pay taxes at a rate lower than his assistant, but the total federal take from Buffett’s annual earnings far exceed the take from his assistant’s earnings.

2. Buffett’s effective tax rate, the percentage of taxes he pays, is the result of the work done by the army of expert tax lawyers and tax accountants he employs. They’re paid not only to do his taxes but to use every deduction and loophole to keep them as low as possible. If Buffett did his own taxes, perhaps with a Form 1040-EZ, he would be singing a totally different tune about his tax rate.

3. There is nothing in the U.S. tax code keeping the guilt-ridden rich like Buffett from paying to the government — local, state or federal — more than their “fair share” in taxes. If Buffett isn’t happy with his tax rate, if he thinks it’s too low, all he has to do is break out his checkbook and make out an additional big fat check to the U.S. Treasury. But these guilt-ridden millionaires and billionaires shouldn’t be allowed to force their guilt upon the peers who are simply following existing tax law and trying to keep more of what they earn. A friend put it well this way: “Interesting how most liberals — and some ‘conservatives’ — feel it necessary to impose their idea of compassion upon other people.”

4. Obama’s exercise in class warfare is a play to the “99 percent” crowd, jealous socialists who want for themselves a big slice of what the rich — most of them at least — have worked so hard to earn.

5. Obama’s push for the “Buffett rule” as a means of tax “reform” comes after three years of White House support — reluctant though it might have been — for extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts. Just how does the president reconcile the two positions?

6. If tax “fairness” is the ultimate goal, then the same rules should apply to incomes at every level. And fairness is best achieved when the rules are few and simple. Applying the simplicity taught by the Bible, everyone is expected to return 10 percent of what they earn to the temple or church. If God is requiring only 10 percent from us, why should government, run by lowly man, require anything more?

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

How dare the U.S. Supreme Court do its job, president says

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — If for no other reason, the Obama administration needs to come to a screeching halt in January 2013 to return some humility to the White House and federal executive branch.

In the height of arrogance, President Obama last week questioned how in the world the U.S. Supreme Court possibly could review, and perhaps overturn, his health-care and health insurance overhaul legislation. (Here, it’s known with derision as “Obamacare.”)

Why, two branches of the federal government signed off on the legislation, and that should be the end of that, the president basically said. It was his way of telling the high court, “Don’t interfere with our plans to to take over one-sixth of the nation’s economy and control people’s lives even more.”

It was frustrating to hear last Thursday (April 5) about the president’s remarks — and his laughable denunciatiation of an “activist court” — but the comments really weren’t surprising. I learned long ago that, based on his own statements, writings and deeds, this is a man whose arrogance is topped only by his contempt for this nation, its laws and its greatness.

However, frustration gave way to glee the next day when news came that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered the White House, via the U.S. Department of Justice, to explain itself.

The lead paragraph of a New York Times story about the court’s order was well done. Reporter John H. Cushman Jr. wrote from Washington:

“The Obama administration conceded the incontestable to a disgruntled federal court Thursday, formally declaring that ‘the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute.’ ”

The White House and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder were put on the defensive after President Obama said on April 2 that it “would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the health-care law.

To make that statement, the president would have to ignore the many times throughout this nation’s history that the high court has, in fact, overturned congressional legislation as being unconstitutional.

In just one example (and certainly not the best one), does anyone remember the federal balanced budget legislation that Congress passed, and that then-President Bill Clinton signed, in the mid-1990s? A majority of Supreme Court justices found the law to be unconstitutional, so — Poof! — the law went away, and now we’re living with budget deficits that truly are out of control.

Here’s a lesson on how judicial review works: It happens only when individuals, groups and even government bodies bring, through their lawyers, grievances before the courts. And even then the judges on these courts have to agree to hear the cases. The federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, don’t create cases for judicial review out of thin air.

The opposition to Obamacare, and its clearly unconstitutional mandate that everyone buy or be covered by health insurance, is widespread. Petitions to get it overturned were filed with several federal courts of appeal, and eventually the case worked its way up to the nation’s highest court. The Supreme Court justices agreed to take the case and, having recently heard arguments for and against Obamacare, currently are weighing its constitutionality.

The hope here is that the Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare and halt the federal government’s plans to take over the U.S. health-care and health insurance systems.

The hope also is that Obama and Co. will get big lessons in humility and the way our Founders structured our government.

We remind President Obama that there are three co-equal branches of government — not just two — and that one of them, the judicial branch, is topped by the U.S. Supreme Court, the body the president would so casually toss aside as being irrelevant.

“The Thinker Statue” by French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Here’s the choice: More ‘wants’ or a better character?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — There aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the good things that should and could be done, but each day does offer moments that are good for thinking.

Recently, during one of those opportunities to just think, it occurred to me, in an archaic-sounding sort of way, that I really am “want of nothing” but needful of so many things.

It’s materialism vs. character. Possessions vs. traits. Goods vs. goodness.

God has blessed with an abundance of things I can see and touch and have, so prayers for more “wants” just seem so selfish. But the “needs” are many. I need to be:

• Wiser — in all the things I say, think, write and do. (Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. — Proverbs 4:7 [KJV])

• More patient. (Oh, how I need more patience!)

• More grateful.

• More giving — of time, money, resources and whatever talents I might have.

• More sharing.

• Less selfish.

• More empathetic and sympathetic.

• More tenderhearted.

• More loving.

• More compassionate.

• More forgiving.

• A better listener.

• More humble.

• Less judgmental.

• More understanding.

• More cheerful.

• More optimistic.

• Less prone to sarcasm.

• A greater seeker of truth.

• Less wasteful — of time, money and other resources.

• A better teacher.

• Less tempted by laziness.

• A better steward of all that God has provided.

• More thirsty for God’s Word.

• And a much better witness for Jesus.

More or less, it’s all the stuff of prayer — lots and lots and lots of prayer.

‘He is not here,
but is risen ... ’

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On this Easter Sunday, let it be known — still and again — that as Christians, we serve a risen Savior. Happy Easter to all. — Joe Braddy

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. — Luke 24: 6, 7 (KJV)

He Lives!

Words and music by Alfred Ackley

1. I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.

(Chorus) He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

2. In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing
Will come at last.

3. Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.

Whitney Houston was talented, but she also was a fool

Friday, March 23, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, 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.

An autopsy 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 bathtub.

A “cardiac 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.

According to 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.

Sadly, what the postmortem investigatation failed to find in Houston’s system was any ounce of common sense or self-respect.

The talented 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 that?

I understand that Houston got her start in music while singing in her church as a youth. I can only hope that, while she might have gone badly astray, she had been saved as a child or teenager and had the right relationship with the Creator.

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 Department photo)

Let’s get our
ground troops out
of Afghanistan

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I’m with Cal Thomas and an increasing number of conservatives who think this way:

It’s 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 near Kabul.

Because Taliban 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 citizens.

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.”

This “Dead 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)

Cul de sac street
sign addition makes
us ‘dead-enders’

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — By act of our county’s streets and signs departments, I, my wife and my immediate neighbors are official “dead-enders.”

Whether that 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.

The powers 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 neighborhood.

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.

After noticing 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 “No Outlet”?

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.

In a year of great change, God provides

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, 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.

There’s nothing good about smoking

I was pleased to read about the youth-oriented Polk County SWAT Kicking Butts event, scheduled for March 17 in Winter Haven.

SWAT stands for Students Working Against Tobacco. I applaud these students and their efforts to make Florida tobacco free.

I 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.

I 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.

I 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 things.

And 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.

I 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?)

However, 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?”

Maybe I’ll do that sometime. Who knows, maybe it’ll save a life. — JB (March 17, 2012)

This Dolphins, Tebow fan is a bit unsettled

Tim Tebow a New York Jet? Please, say it isn’t so!

Apparently, it is so, after the Denver Broncos and New York Jets announced a Wednesday (March 21) trade for Tebow (shown above).

When 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.

It 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.

Of all the NFL teams and locales, why did Tebow, the fine young Christian, have to land with the Jets in New York City?

Oh well, maybe he'll be a good influence on the city and its people. — JB (March 22, 2012)

POSTSCRIPT: One 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.

Here’s 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.”

Of 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

Let’s just call it ‘The Maricopa Meltdown’

“The Maricopa Meltdown.”

Not having looked to see if the tag is original — I sure hope it is — that’s what I’m calling the Florida Gators’ late-game collapse against Louisville in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on Saturday (March 24).

Maricopa, of course, is the home county to Phoenix, Ariz., the city in which the Florida-Louisville game was played.

That Gators had an 11-point lead late in the game but let it slip away with some awful play. Louisville won the game, 72-68, and the Cardinals punched their ticket to the Final Four round of the tournament.

It was a tournament spot that, in my humble opinion, belonged to the Gators, who had control of Saturday’s game much of the way.

Finally recognizing that there are things far more important in life, I don’t let losses by the Gators in any sport bother me as much as they used to — in other words, I don’t throw a temper tantrum — but Saturday’s loss by UF will take a while to get out of my system. — JB (March 25, 2012)

‘Chairman Zero’ reference is fitting

Among the messages in the e-mail this morning was one that referred to the current occupant of the White House as “Chairman Zero.”

While not very respectful of President Barack Hussein Obama, the reference does effectively sum up the emptiness of the Obama administration and drives home the point that our president and his handlers have socialist/communist leanings.

Will Mr. Obama be a one-term president? For the sake of our great — or at least once-great — nation, I sure hope so. — JB (March 27, 2012)

Smoking one habit I don’t have to break

As I watch a co-worker struggle to give up smoking (and as I hope and pray for his success), I am so very thankful that I never took up the highly addictive cigarette habit.

Oh, I tried cigarettes, as a 10- or 11-year-old, but I felt so guilty about it that I stopped before I learned to inhale and never wanted to touch those nasty things again.

There’s one thing we know about a bad habit, smoking included: If you don’t start one, you won’t have it to break later on. — JB (March 29, 2012)

Buffalo sighting brings back a fond childhood memory

“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam And the deer and the antelope play ... ” — From “Home on the Range” (an American tune by Brewster Higley and Daniel Kelley)

I saw the buffalo roaming this past week, near Auburndale and just a few miles from my Winter Haven home.

Spotted on my evening drive home from work on two separate occasions, there were two grazing buffalo, likely a part of the Native American Pow-Wow held at the International Market World flea market near U.S. Highway 92 and the Polk Parkway.

The first sighting of the beasts took me by surprise and then immediately took me back to my early childhood, at a time (in the 1960s) when I lived at or near Fort Riley, Kan.

There weren’t many places to shop on base, so soldiers and their families typically drove to nearby Junction City for groceries and other things. Just off the main route between the Army base and the city was a large reserve — perhaps a preserve — for buffalo, which at one time in this nation’s history almost became became extinct.

Riding in the huge sedan with Dad usually driving, I always looked forward to passing by the reserve and watching scores — perhaps hundreds — of buffalo (or bison) grazing in the well-fenced field.

It’s one of the happier memories from my youth. Thank God our American buffalo no longer are in danger of extinction. — JB (March 25, 2012)

Group promotes core American values

Promoting the U.S. Constitution and America’s core traditional values.

What’s not to love about that?

That’s the general purpose behind the Winter Haven 9/12 Project Group and others like it across the nation.

These 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 all the “United We Stand” T-shirts and bumper stickers?)

The Winter Haven group meets each Thursday, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the Poolside Room at the Chain O’ Lakes Complex at Cypress Gardens Boulevard and U.S. Highway 17. Meetings are free and open to the public.

For details about the Winter Haven 9/12 Project Group, e-mail member Tom Williams at Williams7098@tampabay.rr.com. The group also has a website at www.winterhaven912.org. — JB (March 18, 2012)

So much to do and so very little time

Here’s a personal prayer that I don’t mind sharing ...

“Dear 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 8, 2012)

Who would compose your life’s music?

I had breakfast with a good friend in Lakeland recently and came across the following message on a business sign:

“The trouble with reality is that there’s no background music.”

True. 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”).

That 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 role.

Who 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)

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)

Be responsible: Pay back what you owe

Here’s an important message for anyone who owes anybody any money:

Do the responsible thing, meet your obligations and pay it back! JB (March 22, 2012)

The website for the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney: http://www.mittromney.com/

A great book from a former Winter Haven newspaper editor (and good friend): http://tinyurl.com/77aje5e

An excellent resource for conservatives and conservative ideas: http://www.heritage.org/

Another good source of news from, for and about the right: http://www.1776coalition.com/

For fine portraits and quality commercial photography: http://www.pezzimenti.com/ and http://pezzimentiphotography.com/

An interesting read on our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln: http://lincolnlaughing.com/

Anyone who loved our 40th president will love this site:

For great, useful and trendy technology:

A great community project: http://ritzoncentral.com/

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.

For 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.

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: “Spend less time on Facebook and more time in His book.”

An open invitation to attend: http://centralbaptistchurchwh.com/

Strikes: To the Government Services Adminstration, otherwise known as the GSA. The primary mission of this federal agency is to manage government spending, but it failed miserably by holding an extravagant conference in Las Vegas — to the tune of $800,000! Among other wasteful expenses, U.S. tax dollars — yours and mine — were spent on yearbooks, commemorative coins, keychains and, interestingly, clowns. (Hmmm, clowns entertaining clowns.) This telling episode of government waste makes us wonder: If the GSA’s role is managing government spending, who’s responsible for managing GSA spending?

Strikes: To the Obama administration, which, with only feigned concern, has basically stood on the sidelines while the average U.S. price for 87-octane unleaded gasoline topped $4 per gallon. With disdain for oil companies and their primary product, fossil fuels, Obama and Co. actually welcome rising fuel prices. The president and his handlers know very well that oil is the lifeblood of this econony and that high fuel prices lead to higher prices for everything else (Can you say “Inflation”?), but they just don’t care. Why? Because they’re socialists. They’re anti-capitalists. They want people coming to the government for “solutions” to this and other problems. With U.S. oil just waiting to be tapped offshore and in so many places inland, and with the ability to raise up new and much-needed oil refineries almost overnight, there is no good reason — barriers put up by government are NOT good reasons — for $4-per-gallon gasoline at the pump. What this nation needs is not an energy policy that emphasizes windmills and electric cars but a fuel policy that recognizes oil as the most efficient energy source we have.

Stars: 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

Strikes: 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.

Stars: 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.

Stars: 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.

Strikes: 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.


Back Romney for president and send Obama packing

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — During the primary election season, I wasn’t an enthusiastic supporter of any of the Republican candidates for president. All of them fell far short of the standard set by Ronald Reagan, by far the best conservative in the modern era to ever run for and win the presidency.

But, now that the path has been cleared for the 2012 GOP nomination of Mitt Romney, I will back his candidacy for president and enthusiastically vote for him come Nov. 6.

And, I ask that my fellow conservatives and Republicans, and independents, libertarians, conservative-to-moderate Democrats and anyone else who truly loves our nation, to do the same.

Why should we support Romney with our time, energy, money, prayers and, ultimately, our vote at the ballot box on Election Day?

• On most of the issues, particularly those dealing with the economy and defense, he’s decidedly conservative.

• Romney is a later-in-life politician, meaning he orginally made a living outside of government as a highly successful businessman. That experience in the real world can be and should be extremely valuable when matters of the economy, job creation and federal budget are considered.

• His election should slow considerably the nation’s dramatic lurch to the left and drive toward destructive socialism, all led by the current administration of President Barack Hussein Obama and — shedding some truth on the matter — his Marxist/communist handlers.

• Since his inauguration, Obama and his policies have been an economic, financial, national security, social and cultural disaster for the United States. An unrestrained Obama in a second term very well could put the nation on an unrecoverable path toward mediocrity or, even worse, eventual ruin. Why take the chance?

• Romney is a capitalist and not ashamed of it. He understands full well that capitalism has been a crucial component of this nation’s strong foundation through the years and that capitalism will help keep the United States economically strong, vibrant and free.

• I believe in and love America and, unlike the current occupant of the White House, Romney also believes in America — so much so that he’s made it his campaign slogan.

• Mitt Romney isn’t Barack Obama — the point can’t be made strongly enough — so given the choices we’ll have for president on the general election ballot (and, to be sure, there will be plenty of fringe candidate options for America’s top job), what reasonable choice other than Romney do we have? (Not voting doesn’t count and might even hurt the conservative cause.)

May God help us during this election cycle. May God be with us. May God bless America.

On the Web: http://www.mittromney.com/

Amusing or tragically sad? This image, which is making the rounds on Facebook, shows the politically, socially and culturally blind being led off the cliff by President Barack Obama and those in his administration. “Forward” is the new slogan for the Obama re-election campaign. Interestingly, the slogan “Forward” has its roots in European Marxism, according to people familiar with such things. Coincidence? We think not.

Read his lips: ‘Fairness’ an Obama call for tax hikes

Friday, May 4, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — President Obama’s messages about economic “fairness” are nothing more than class warfare, pitting those considered to be rich against those who pay no taxes.

His socialist policy of redistribution of wealth by increasing taxes on the wealthy, using the proposed “Buffett Rule” to increase capital gains taxes to 30 percent and marginal tax rates to 50 percent, will only drive investments offshore and further reduce the number of American jobs.  
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this will result in only $500 billion being collected toward the $16 trillion (and growing) national debt over 10 years. Robbing wealth from those who provide most of the jobs, while destroying individual initiative and motivation to work hard, is a very poor tradeoff. 
Obama developed this new “fairness” message because he can’t run on his record of failures, some of which are listed below:
• Obamacare — A high costs to taxpayers, a reduction in health care and unconstitutionality.

• No tax reform — Fifty percent of Americans pay no taxes.

• No immigration reform — The federal government is suing the states for enforcing federal laws that the federal government won’t even enforce.

• No energy policy — Wasting taxpayer funds on “green” projects that supply less than 2 percent of our energy needs and lying about who increased domestic oil production and drilling.

• An apologetic and appeasement foreign policy — Leading to the “Arab Spring” and more radical Islaminization.

• Government regulation — Unconstitutional federal czars and executive orders replacing leadership.

• Disregard for the U.S. Constitution and individual liberty — Example: Ordering Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives.

• Poor economy — Unemployment still more than 8 percent unemployment (17 percent underemployment); foreclosures; allowing two years of unemployment pay.

• Transparency in government — Not.

• Debt — Increases of $5 trillion and growing; a budget plan with a $1.3 trillion deficit; the use of military assets to support vacations and junkets; no entitlement reform.

• Fostering a European-style entitlement society — A record 44 million people on food stamps and increases in other government giveaways (cell phones, housing subsidies, Medicaid, Social Security Supplemental Security Income [SSI], etc.).

• Attempts to reduce our national sovereignty through the United Nations.

• Irresponsible actions by the U.S. attorney general — The “Operation Fast and Furious” weapons sting; Black Panthers; and the use of the United Nations to declare that the United States violates human rights.

Royal A. Brown III is a retired career U.S. Army veteran and a retired educator. He taught in the Army Junior ROTC program at Winter Haven (Fla.) High School.

Many in government want control over our private pension and retirement funds and our free Internet. Are we going to let them have it?

Be wary of government’s moves on Internet, pensions

Thursday, April 26, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Words to the wise:

They’ve already come for, taken and corrupted most of our children through a public education system — grade school, secondary and post-secondary — that long ago kicked out God, the Bible, discipline and sound teaching.

Now the higher-ups in our “benevolent” federal government are gunning for our Internet-related freedoms and our privately held pension and retirement funds.

Don’t let them have them. Don’t let them take them.

If the government moves in on the Internet — the World Wide Web — not only will it grab the ability to tax financial transactions currently out of its reach, it will control the individual’s ability to freely post content to the ’Net and, as a result, limit the rich content — be it good, bad or ugly — that all of us are now free to view, research, download and interact with.

In basic and quite scary terms, the government would end up controlling both the medium and the message.


Two of our presidents: Abraham Lincoln, No. 16, left, and Barack Hussein Obama, No. 44. Given a choice, who would you trust most to steer the ship of state?

Obama like Lincoln? Let’s paint a picture of contrasts

Saturday, April 21 , 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The television news had a blip the other night about our nation’s 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama, and yet another in a long line of references he has made through the years to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

This time, apparently, President Obama was drawing similarities between himself and Lincoln.

(It wasn't the first time he’s done this. Back in mid-March, our Democrat president said that he’s more like Lincoln, the nation's first Republican president, than any of today’s crop of Republicans. And he suggested that Lincoln would feel more at home with today’s Democrat Party than with the modern-day GOP.)

Without even trying to understand the president’s logic or reasoning for making the comparison, except to say the self-absorbed one likely has motives tied to a re-election bid, it might be more instructive to note the striking contrasts between him and Lincoln.


Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, right, and his wife Ann wave to supporters on Jan. 31 following Romney’s victory in the Florida GOP presidential primary election. (Photo from the Mitt Romney campaign website)

GOP needs to get behind Romney, take on Obama

Sunday, April 8, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Message to Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul:

GOP superdelegates say the race for the Republican presidential nomination is over; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be the nominee.

At this point in the road to the White House, with Romney having won almost all of the key GOP primary elections, there’s no way Gingrich, Santorum or Paul can overtake the leader, so it’s time for them to bring their presidential campaigns to a halt. It’s time for everyone in the GOP and conservatives and libertarians outside the party to coalesce, support Romney and help him make Barack Hussein Obama a one-term president.

(April 10 update: Santorum suspended his campaign today, basically clearing the way for Romney to grab the nomination.)

(April 25 update: After Romney swept the April 24 GOP primaries in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island, Gingrich announced today that he, too, was suspending his campaign.)

Romney wasn’t my first choice among the starting GOP candidates for president and is a far, far cry from my ideal of a person to lead this nation, but even I recognize that he’s the best chance we have now to bring the disaster of an Obama administration to a halt.

Santorum and Paul haven’t spoken publicly about their plans to either quit or continue their campaigns, but Gingrich, the former congressman from Georgia and U.S. House speaker, insist that he’s staying in the race.

Gingrich said he has a mission, and that is to make sure Romney runs as a conservative in the general election. That’s interesting, considering that Gingrich has embraced some not-so-conservative positions, such as support for something akin to universal Obamacare and, basically, a belief shared with Al Gore that “global warming” exists and needs to be corrected with ridiculously expensive and unworkable environmental policies.

I’m not a campaign adviser or political strategist by any stretch of the imagination, but if Romney ever does seek my advice, I would tell him to forget about the other GOP candidates, campaign now as if he were the official Republican nominee and go after Obama and his administration at every opportunity.

With so much failure from the current administration to work with and with the U.S. economy in such sad shape, Romney should stay on the offense with his speeches and campaign statements and keep the Obama campaign on defense 24/7.

This is no time to play nice. Romney can be respectful of the presidency and the president while going hard after Obama over deeds, statements, politics and policies.

Romney should hammer home at every opportunity that Obama has been bad for America, that a second Obama administration would be an even bigger disaster for America and that America still is something very much to believe in.

To the atheist: Just look
to nature, to the heavens

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Atheism is a religion to the same degree as all other faiths. Webster’s Dictionary describes atheism as such.

Atheists are free to practice their religious beliefs, but they certainly are not free to impede or prohibit the free exercise for those who have a different belief.

This commentary will neither ridicule nor proselytize, but it does provide a metaphoric discussion for consideration by both those of “faith” and those who believe in the religion of atheism.


Nov. 6, 2012, a pivotal date for the future of our nation

Thursday, March 29, 2012


AUBURNDALE, Fla. — It is evident from watching the Republican presidential debates and the fight for the GOP presidential nomination that many people do not understand the significance of the upcoming presidential election. Issues such as gay rights, a candidate’s faith and alleged personal baggage are irrelevant to the greater issue.

The presidential election of Nov. 6, 2012, will present a choice between freedom and socialism. We are now at the point where the nation’s survival as a prosperous society will be decided. If we turn right, back toward this nation’s founding principles, we have an opportunity to remain free and restore this country to its former greatness. If we continue to move left, toward the European socialist model, we might lose our freedoms in this country forever.

We are 10 years behind Europe’s example of what our future will look like if President Barack Obama is re-elected: Austerity measures and rioting in the streets by those whose attitude is, “You owe me.” Think Wisconsin and the state union members’ outrage at being asked to contribute to their own pension plans.


Before I kick the bucket, I have a list to work through

Saturday, April 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — As a journalist/editor/writer, I deal daily with words and phrases — let’s call it the language — and have been doing that for almost 37 years. It might be a surprise, however, to learn that the term “bucket list” was only vaguely familiar to me up until a couple of years ago.

That’s when I watched on the small screen a tearjerker of a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and titled — Guess what? — “The Bucket List.” It’s about a couple of terminally ill, cranky and seemingly incompatible old guys who befriend one another and decide together to do a few things — some of them wild — before they “kick the bucket.” Hence, the Nicholson and Freeman characters create their mutual bucket list and cross off the line items as they do them — and have a blast along the way.

I’ve started a bucket list, too, though at last check my life was terminal in only the normal and basically healthy kind of way. At this stage, I don’t have on my list any of the more daring kinds of things the Nicholson and Freeman characters did (While it might be a rush, I doubt that my limits for adventure will have me parachuting out of an airplane.), but I do consider my list to be reasonably challenging, especially with time and money being key factors.


The Quran of Islam
is a dangerous book

Saturday, March 17, 2012


FROSTPROOF, 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 Judaism.

The writer avoided the Quran’s contrary instructions.

The 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.

Since 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.

The 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?

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached by e-mail at jackmurphy27@gmail.com.

Targeting oil ‘speculators’ an energy policy sideshow

Monday, March 5, 2012


WINTER 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.”


It 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.

How do you cleanse
a soiled White House?

Friday, March 2 , 2012


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.

James W. MacMeekin III, of Winter Haven, Fla., is an author with five books to his credit. They include “Lincoln Laughing.” (lincolnlaughing.com). 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 jameswmacmeekin @yahoo.com.

Following recent events, will Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood be forever linked in our minds?

Komen group came so close to doing the right thing

Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012


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 Parenthood.

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 cancer-screening services.

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.

Scrap the tax code; ponder move to national sales tax

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, 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 eliminated.


“The Guardian Angel” was painted by Pietro da Cortona in 1656.

Let me tell you about my guardian angel, Andrew

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012


FROSTPROOF, 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 spiritual explanation.

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 not Italian.”

Some 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.

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla. He can be reached by e-mail at jackmurphy27@gmail.com.

Weight loss possible when exercising some discipline

Saturday Dec. 31, 2011



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 face.

“Now, that says a lot,” 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 — not that there’s 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 didn’t 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?)

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.)

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. You can 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?


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 PolkCommentary.com for publication of this cartoon series. No other publication is permitted without written consent of the artist.)


“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” — The Pledge of Allegiance

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road ... unless you fail to make the turn.” — Anonymous

“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.” — George Washington (1732-1799), Revolutionary War hero and first U.S. president

“There is no such thing as failure. There is only success or quitting. I’m not a quitter.” — Unknown

“I believe 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. president

“Take 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

“I love my freedom. I love my America.” — Jessi Lane Adams (often quoted but, strangely, no bio about this person online)

“Democracy 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

“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” — Doug Firebaugh, author and motivational speaker

“My God! 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

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” — Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot (1819-1880), British novelist

“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

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

“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”

“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)

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

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” — Author Lin Yutang in “An Academic Sparks Giving to Charity”

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. — Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)

“Integrity has no need of rules.” — Albert Camus (1913-1960), French author, philosopher, journalist and Nobel Prize winner for literature

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman and prime minister

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with bricks that others throw at him.” — David Brinkley (1920-2003), American broadcaster

“Many Christians have gone on to an untimely death because they got out of the will of God.” — Dr. Gene Wiggins, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Winter Haven, Fla., in a March 4, 2012, sermon

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

“There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and laziness.” — Franz Kafka (1883-1924), German-language author of short stories and novels

“Who aims at excellence will be above mediocrity; who aims at mediocrity will be far short of it.” — Burmese saying

“The love of wealth makes bitter men; the love of God, better men.” — W.L. Hudson

“Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accummulate laws to take it away from themselves.” — Unknown

“The 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

“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)

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

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

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

The Senility Prayer:
Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked; the good fortune to run into the ones I do; and the eyesight to tell the difference. — Contributed by Jack Murphy

Did you hear about the red ship and the blue ship that collided? Both crews were marooned.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of payments.

A laugh for dieter No. 1: Losing weight is a triumph of mind over platter.

I live in my own little world, but it’s OK; they know me here.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Sometimes I wake up grumpy. Other times I let her sleep.

I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

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

“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.

Ninety-nine percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

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

IRS might be targeting Tea Party groups

This headline doesn’t give us a warm and fuzzy feeling about our federal government:

“Numerous Tea Party chapters claim IRS attempts to sabotage nonprofit status”

According to 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.”

Our government, 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)

Post-rapture 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.

Recently, this space addressed a bumper sticker that said: “Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?”

Here’s what was found Feb. 17 on a car being driven by someone with obvious anti-Christian tendencies:

“Bring on the rapture. The rest of us will have the Earth to ourselves.”

The person 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.

Really, who would want to be left behind to live in a world void of the evil-restraining influence of Christians and the Holy Spirit?

Apparently, 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)

It’s all God’s handiwork

I enjoy very much rising early, going outside, praying, meditating and soaking in the freshness of a new day.

This morning, as I looked east and watched whispy white clouds go from pink to orange with the rising sun, a belief I’ve had since childhood was reinforced — again.

There’s absolutely no way the wonder, beauty, perfection, greatness and majesty of Earth’s nature and the universe came about by accident, a “Big Bang” the eggheads call it.

No, just as it says in the Bible, in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.”

About that I can be certain — even without a degree in science. — JB (April 10, 2012)

The message is challenging

I drove by my church Saturday while running some errands and saw the new sign message that someone had put up:

“Will anyone be in Heaven because of you?”

It’s a challenging message for all Christians — me included.JB (March 25, 2012)

The stars are

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.

Likely because 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)

The message
is comforting

During the 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.

“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

“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 Christian song

“In times like these I have a Savior, In times like these I have an anchor; ...” — From “In Times Like These,” a gospel hymn





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