lesson applied
much too late

Friday, Aug. 24, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Yesterday, Aug. 23, marked the ninth anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, Larry Herbert Whitmer.

A longtime resident of the Davenport-Haines City area, he took his last breaths at Lakeland Regional Medical Center a few days after suffering a major heart attack.

I will note here for posterity that Mr. Whitmer — I always called him “Mr. Whitmer” out of great respect — was a wonderful man, a great and giving Christian, a kind and generous father-in-law to me and a terrific and loving grandfather to my two daughters.

For several reasons, I was closer to Mr. Whitmer than I was to my own father. The proximity of our homes here in Polk County had something to do with that, I suppose, but to a greater extent there was a common belief system, particularly in our shared Christian faith and conservative (politically, financially and socially) philosophy of life.

I’ve always had a strong work ethic, to the point of being labeled by many people as a workaholic. One of the best lessons I learned from Mr. Whitmer was that “Work is just a means to an end,” something that, while important and necessary, shouldn’t consume a person and keep him or her from the more meaningful things of life, like church and family.

It’s a lesson I eventually grasped — and applied to my life to a greater extent — though much too long after Mr. Whitmer’s death. I often think about all the family time I missed when I was too preoccupied with work. And today I wonder: “How much more time could I have spent with Mr. Whitmer here on Earth and how much more wisdom could I have gleaned from him had I taken his lesson to heart so much sooner?”

Each American
has a $3,100
deficit share

Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — From a recent newspaper, I saved a story about the U.S. federal budget deficit and how it had grown by $70 billion in July to reach a total of $974 billion.

It’s well on track to top $1 trillion for the fourth straight year.

(This is the budget deficit, mind you — not the total current U.S. public debt of $15.96 trillion.)

If the U.S. Census Bureau’s count is even close to being correct, and the U.S. population stands at roughly 314.2 million people, the share of the federal deficit for every man, woman and child in this country is approximately $3,100.

This means that in order to balance the federal budget deficit, every American and everyone living here legally would have to fork over $3,100 to the government, give up $3,100 in government benefits or do a combination of both.

And that’s just for a single year!

Who’s willing to do that for a year? Who’s willing to do that for all the years in the forseeable future?

The budget deficit has gotten this far out of control (we’re supposed to be comforted by a statement in the newspaper story that the deficit today is about 11.5 percent less than it was this time last year) mostly because of irresponsible or nonexistent leadership from Congress and the White House. But, we the people, also share in the blame. We’ve asked, and continue to ask, for handouts, goodies, social programs and other benefits that the government shouldn’t provide or simply can’t provide on an infinite basis.

When we point our finger of blame at government for the outrageous federal deficit and the oh-so-ominous U.S. national debt, remember that we have a lot more fingers pointing back at us.

Let’s focus on the
81.1% of Polk’s
eligible voters who
didn’t vote Aug. 14

Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I voted in the Tuesday (Aug. 14) primary election here in Polk County and have the “I Voted” sticker to prove it. (See the photo above.)

The Polk County Supervisor of Elections Office reports that I was joined in the voting by 63,892 of my fellow county residents.

Sadly, no, make that appallingly, about 224,165 Polk residents, the balance of those registered with the elections office, didn’t vote. They sat out the election, failing to exercise their right and privilege as Americans to have a democratic say-so in local, state and national government.

Tuesday’s election, though a primary, was a general election and open to any registered voter, no matter what the party affiliation might be. It wasn’t a closed primary just for Democrats or just for Republicans.

More people should’ve known about the election. More people should’ve been interested. More people should’ve voted.

To illustrate the problem, I’ll share this: Two of my co-workers, both intelligent men in responsible positions, both will many years of experience with newspapers and in publishing, actually we’re surprised Tuesday when they learned, or saw from the sticker, that I had voted. “Election? What election?” one asked. “You voted?” asked the other, absolutely unaware of the primary election. Incredibly, the only election they knew about was the big one coming up Nov. 6.

Election officials had predicted a voter turnout of 18 percent. They probably were tickled pink that the final turnout was a higher 18.9 percent. In my book, that’s not an achievement. That“s just pathetic — and a sign of two very disturbing problems in this country. They are ignorance and apathy among the citizens.

Here’s a message to registered voters who don’t vote and a message to all voting-eligible Americans who don’t even bother to register: “Your voting rights: If you don’t use ’em, you very well could lose ’em.”

Democrats are
making party
ripe for a few
new nicknames

Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Following some absolutely dreadful and disgusting action by the national-level Democrats on Saturday (Aug. 11), here’s what Jonathan D. Salant of BusinessWeek wrote:

“Democrats unanimously voted today to endorse same-sex marriage in their party’s platform, the first time a major political party has supported the issue in its statement of policies.

“Today’s action at the platform committee meeting in Detroit sends the document for ratification by delegates to next month’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, said in May that he supports same-sex marriage. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney doesn’t. ...”

If the committee’s work is formally adopted by the Democratic convention delegates — and there’s not much reason to believe it won’t be — what new nicknames will we be able to apply to the onetime party of Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy?

  • The Homosexual Party?
  • The Gay Party?
  • The Anti-Bible Party?
  • The Immorality Party?
  • The Party of Sin?
  • The Sodomy Party?
  • The Anti-God Party?
  • The Anti-Christian Party?
  • The Party of Ill Repute?
  • The Revolting Party?
  • The Disgusting Party?

Harsh? Perhaps. Truthful? Absolutely. You could use any one of these nicknames; each one easily would hit the mark.

Will this action by Democrats at the national level attract more people to the party? Or will it drive away any of the more reasonable, conservative and moral rank-and-file Democrats?

For the good of the nation — for the sake of our children and grandchildren — I hope for the latter.

Eat mor chikin?
I’ll do it — and
quietly make a
values statement

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The roadside sign outside the local church reads this way:

“Eat more chicken. Don’t be one. Support family values.”

To the uninitiated, the words are just gibberish, but anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to current events will know the background to the message.

The Chick-fil-A restaurant chain is in the news following comments its Christian president, Dan Cathy, made to the Baptist Press. Cathy said the company, known for keeping its restaurants shuttered on Sundays, the Lord’s Day, is “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family” — and not the concocted “gay marriages” now openly supported by our current president. Later, in a radio interview, Cathy said “I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ ”

Long the target of militant homosexual groups and rank-and-file liberals for its Christian business principles and financial support of conservative organizations like the Family Research Council, Chick-fil-A is the subject of renewed boycott calls by gay-rights advocates. Leaders of leftist-dominated cities like Boston and Chicago are getting in on the act, too, condemning Cathy’s statements and saying Chick-fil-A isn’t welcome in their business communities.

But, Christians around the nation are fighting back, eating more at Chick-fil-A restaurants throughout the land and planning to heed the call by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, to make this coming Wednesday (Aug. 1) “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” The purpose is to support a company whose executives are willing to take a public stand for godly values.

Huckabee has asked that Christians, and anyone else who supports traditional family values and the traditional definition of marriage, to visit a Chick-fil-A at any time on Wednesday and buy a chicken sandwich or something else on the menu. The idea is to financially and quietly support the company and its leaders — not to make a scene by marching, picketing, shouting or shaking a fist in someone’s face.

I’ve made plans to take part and will gladly drive out of my way to do it. A Chick-fil-A restaurant is coming — eventually — to Winter Haven, but until then the nearest ones to my home are two in Lakeland, one on South Florida Avenue and the other at Lakeland Square, the mall on U.S. Highway 98 North.

Having a delicious Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich is a good enough reason to visit one of the restaurants, but on Wednesday I’ll go for more important reasons: 1. To join the worthy effort started by Huckabee; 2. To patronize a fine company; 3. To support Dan Cathy’s courage and principled stand for faith and traditional family values; 4. To help make up for any economic damage a homosexual and liberal boycott might do to Chick-fil-A; and 5. To quietly but firmly send a statement to the social liberals, including President Barack Hussein Obama, that they won’t be able to force their twisted brand of family values on me.

Will you join me and others for “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”? Will you regularly support Chick-fil-A with your fast-food dollars? I hope you will.

People supporting the Chick-fil-A company and executives in the social war over family values turned out in droves at restaurants all across the nation on Wednesday (Aug. 1), “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” These photos were taken between 8 and 8:30 p.m. at the extremely busy Chick-fil-A on South Florida Avenue in Lakeland (Fla.).

On Chick-fil-A,
here’s a follow-up

Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I made good on my plans to participate Wednesday (Aug. 1) in “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” and was pleased to have been a part of the great outpouring of support for this fine company and the moral people who lead it.

I ended up at the Chick-fil-A on South Florida Avenue in Lakeland (Fla.) around 8:15 p.m. and was very happy and perhaps even a bit surprised to see the place jammed with patrons at that late hour. I knew the call for people to support Chick-fil-A, as a response to the attacks it has received from militant homosexual groups and liberals, would bring the company a lot of increased business Wednesday, but I honestly didn’t think “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” would be as tremendously successful as it turned out to be.

My hope is that social conservatives will continue to support Chick-fil-A in the days, weeks and months that follow and not stop with just one special day of action.

Evil in the world
will manifest itself
in terrible acts

Wednesday, July 24, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — “US shocked by cinema mass shooting,” read the big Saturday (July 21) headline in the U.S. edition of a London-based newspaper.

The headline and its accompanying story appeared the day after a heavily armed man opened fire, without warning, inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colo, during a midnight showing of the new Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

By now, most everyone knows the tragic story: Twelve people were killed in the carnage and another 58 people were injured, and James Holmes, a 24-year-old former graduate student, stands accused of being the shooter.

In a matter of just a few moments, the lives of 12 innocent souls — people just out for a night of fun and a bit of escapism from the cares of everyday life — are snuffed out and dozens more are left with scars, both physical and mental, that they likely will carry with them for the rest of their days.

About the headline, some people — perhaps many people — in this country and around the world might have been shocked by the shooting, but I wasn’t among them.

Perhaps it’s because my senses have been dulled to such crimes after almost 37 years as a writer, journalist and newspaper editor.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen this kind of senseless violence many times before — and even with a higher death toll. It wasn’t that long ago, in November 2009, that 13 people were killed and 29 injured when a single gunman opened fire on military personnel at Fort Hood in Texas. And before that, in April 2007, there was the shooting spree by a student at Virginia Tech. In that massacre, 32 people were killed and 17 were injured before the gunman committed suicide.

Perhaps it’s because I know and expect these kinds of things to happen — here and abroad — because I know that evil exists in this world and I know it will manifest itself in extreme violence from time to time — maybe even more frequently as people move further away from God, as society increasingly devalues life and as greater numbers of people wallow deeper in their moral relativism or just plain immorality.

Mike Huckabee, the Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said it well Sunday (July 22) on his Fox News Channel television show: “Ultimately, we don’t have a crime problem or a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. ...”

Many people would label Huckabee’s explanation for the movie theater massacre as too simplistic, but it really does just boil down to sin. Bad people, sinful people, do bad and sinful things, oftentimes at the cost of others’ lives. And as sin becomes more prevalent in our society, it will lead to more evil acts — just like the one the movie-goers in Aurora, Colo., witnessed in terror on a very early Friday morning and what people around the world are vainly grappling to understand today.

Flag Day 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012


“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.”

Obama goes far beyond liberalism, incompentency

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. — Speaking Friday (June 8) during the Conservative Political Action Committee in Chicago, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called President Barack Hussein Obama “the most liberal, most incompetent president in the White House since Jimmy Carter.”

Jindal is correct, of course, but his critical assessment of Obama doesn’t go far enough.

Not nearly far enough.

Not only is Obama the most liberal and incompetent president since Carter, he’s the most dangerous president in U.S. history.

He’s dangerous because of his idealogy, which, without a doubt, is the closest thing to Marxism this nation has ever seen in the White House. He’s dangerous because of his associations, as a young man and as a lawyer earning his stripes as a Chicago-style politician, with leftist subversives, radicals and revolutionaries. He’s dangerous because of his anti-business, anti-capitalism and anti-America mind-set. He’s dangerous because he’s very cozy with Muslims and organizations that would enjoy seeing Israel, our lone ally in the Middle East, wiped off the map and America as we know it cease to exist. And he’s dangerous because he’s not his own man; his handlers and major political and financial backers — those front and center and those in the shadows — are even more dangerous than he is.

But, we on the right — anyone with half a brain, really — knew all of this about Obama long before he was ever elected to the presidency.

As liberal and as incompetent as Jimmy Carter was during his presidency from 1977 through 1980 — America's days in “malaise” — there’s nothing in his background to suggest that his political ideology was fashioned by associations with counter-culture types who wanted to blow up, figuratively or literally, symbols of American order, tradition, authority, capitalism and national defense.

This major difference between Obama and Carter, a man who actually served his country in the U.S. military, is almost enough to make a conservative feel some compassion for America’s 39th president.


Wisconsin vote shows that society’s takers can be stopped

Thursday, June 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The failure of the unionists, Democrats and others on the left to remove Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office early was not an insignificant event.

For one thing, Walker’s convincing victory over Democrat Tom Barrett in the recall election Tuesday (June 5) gave rise to the hope that the people who would, with their insatiable appetite for taxpayer-funded programs and benefits, destroy our states and our nation economically, can be stopped.

Walker was targeted for recall mostly because he dared to take on the public-service unions in an attempt to put Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order. But, he also was targeted simply because he’s a conservative Republican who won election as governor in 2010 in a mostly left-leaning state.

Much is being made about the potential negative affect the Wisconsin vote will have on the re-election campaign of President Barack Hussein Obama. While the political and economic issues in Wisconsin might be a microcosm of the national picture, those who want so badly for Obama to be a one-term president should be cautioned that the Wisconsin election was a referendum on Gov. Walker, his policies and his leadership of the state — not on the person, policies and leadership of our sitting president.

More about all of this later ...

Conservative columnist George F. Will is shown in a recent publicity photo.

George Will simply
an extraordinary thinker and writer

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — George F. Will, the nationally syndicated conservative columnist, is, in a word, awesome.

Consider his most recent piece about the “childish” Wisconsin progressives — I won’t be so kind; they’re Marxist unionists — who forced today’s attempt by statewide election to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Will’s column, titled “Wisconsin’s Peter Pan Progressivism,” was in the local newspapers Sunday, but if you didn’t catch it, it can be found online here.

The Wisconsin unionists have been mighty unhappy with Walker’s work, following his election in 2010, to rein in out-of-control public spending on pensions and health-care benefits for ever-demanding government employees.

I won’t spoil Will’s column by telling anything more about it — you really should read it for yourself — but I will say that it’s quintessential George F. Will: High quality in writing, substance, reasoning and wit.

I use the adjective “quintessential” (go ahead, look it up) purposefully and in homage to Will, whose excellent vocabulary and use of the English language lead many to say — sometimes to complain — that he uses “too many big words.”

Would-be journalists and writers usually are taught to avoid “quarter words” when “nickel words” will do, but in Will’s case, in his writing, “quarter words” seem to be the most appropriate words. They seem to work just fine. (And it’s not an awful thing for a writer to send a reader to a dictionary once in a while.)

My late father, Harold Dean Braddy, was a politically active Republican and an avid newspaper reader. Though it often made him angry, the opinion or editorial page was — as it is for me — his favorite page in the paper and George Will was his favorite columnist. But even Dad, as bright as he was, told me on one occasion that sometimes he had to read a Will column twice to thoroughly get the writer’s point.

My career as a journalist and newspaper editor has provided me with many opportunities to meet and talk with politicians, pro sports figures, celebrities and other famous people. To my great delight, George Will was one of them.

Will was the speaker in 1992 or thereabouts for the annual Winter Haven Hospital Foundation fundraiser, and I was fortunate to receive an invitation to ride with the foundation official whose task it was to drive to Orlando International Airport, meet Will and bring him to Winter Haven. I was with the foundation representative when he greeted Will at the airport terminal, and later I interviewed the columnist (and regular commentator on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning TV news show) from the backseat of the car.

I found it interesting that Will, the journalist, interviewer and commentator (and very nice fellow, by the way), was being interviewed by another journalist and commentator — me.

Not only is Will a great writer, he’a brilliant conservative thinker, as evidenced by anything anyone reads from him. You don’t earn a Pulitzer Prize for commentary, as he as done, by writing fluff.

In a memorable column from a couple of years ago, Will wrote about the crisis of federal deficit spending — expenses currently exceed revenues by $1.3 trillion — and how people often demand that government follow the example of American households and “live within its means.” The point of his column was that government is indeed following the example of most American households — by living beyond its means, by spending more than it takes in and by mounting huge piles of debt.

I don’t do the column true justice by trying to summarize it from memory.

I think back to the wisdom and brilliance of that column when I ponder what I want to be, who I want to be like, when I grow up — as a writer, as a commentator and as a conservative thinker. In the arena of current conservative columnists and thinkers, George F. Will would be tough to top as a role model.

Will the preachers flee the NAACP after its decision on gays?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — So, the NAACP now says it supports same-sex (gay) “marriage.”

In the words of Dana Carvey’s the Church Lady, “Isn’t that special.”

The Saturday (May 20) announcement, following a meeting of the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was seen as a two-fold political move:

1. To give political cover to President Barack Hussein Obama, who said about 10 days earlier that he now believes “personally” that homosexuals should be allowed to “marry” each other.

2. To help shore up one of Obama’s bases, the black vote, which some political pundits say could be fractured because of the president’s new-found enlightenment about gays.

According to the NAACP board, the policy move on same-sex “marriage” is a “continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.”

“The mission of the (NAACP) has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the board of the 103-year-old civil rights organization. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”

Traditionally, the leadership of the NAACP has been dominated by black ministers, but people who tend to become “reverends” more for political rather than for Gospel-spreading reasons. (The “Rev.” Jesse Jackson and the “Rev.” Al Sharpton immediately come to mind.)

It will be interesting to see how many of these ministers, those in NAACP leadership and those as group members and supporters, walk away from the organization following its immoral decision in support of immoral acts — homosexual behavior and so-called “gay marriage.”

Here, according to a FoxNews.com report, is an indication of how that’s going to go:

“Black religious leaders — who traditionally have opposed same-sex marriage — originally opposed the president’s recent decision but appear to have softened their position in recent days.

“Pastor Emmett Burns said on the Sunday following the president’s May 9 announcement that he opposed the decision but this week reportedly said he would vote for Obama.

“Burns, a delegate in the Maryland state legislature, was among the lawmakers who strongly opposed a same-sex marriage bill that passed in the Assembly this year. He helped defeat the bill last year.”

This series of events shows a lot of things — none of them good — but in particular it shows just how weak and uncommitted to God’s Word the pastors are in churches — black, white and otherwise — all across America.

And people wonder why things are going so terribly wrong in this once-great nation.

If we can’t get some grounding in moralty from the pulpits and from the White House, where on God’s Earth will it come from?

Good for them — Polk Countians are arming themselves

Sunday, May 13, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Here’s the lead headline in this morning’s local newspaper:

“Gun sales strong in Polk,” as in Polk County.

And here’s the subhead:

“Trends show people are more likely to buy weapons when it appears a Democrat may be president.”

And why might that be? Because a Democrat as president is more likely than a Republican, particularly a true and conservative Republican, to work on a ban of personal firearms.

Liberal Democrats like President Barack Hussein Obama and those of his stripe have no respect at all for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, much less the Constitution in its entirety.

And presidents like Barack Hussein Obama are more than likely to nominate anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment and anti-Constitution people to open seats on the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts.

In Obama’s case, he hasn’t even had to have help from the Supreme Court and his allies in Congress to act in an anti-gun fashion.

According to an e-mailed alert from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and the National Association for Gun Rights, the White House has unilaterally banned the re-importation of 600,000 U.S.-made M1 Carbine rifles, the guns that “carried the United States through World War II.”

The M1 Carbine is highly desired by U.S. gun collectors, but, according to the e-mailed alert, Hillary Clinton’s State Department is afraid the rifles will “fall into the wrong hands.”

Rand and the gun-rights lobbies are working to reverse the ban on the M1 Carbine and are requesting signatures on an online “Official Firearms Freedom Survey.”

In the meantime, it’s good to read that many of my fellow and law-abiding Polk Countians are exercising their Second-Amendment right to buy, own and sometimes carry a firearm. It’s good for the gun-shop entrepreneurs, good for the local economy and, most of all, good for America.

The citizenry needs to be vigilant about a too-large, too-intrusive and too-oppressive federal government, and it needs the means — currently protected by our Constitution — to arm itself and keep the government “honest.”

In a twist of a well-known bumper sticker slogan, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws — and the government — will have guns.”

Because of Mom, I heard the Gospel and became a Christian

Sunday, May 13, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — On this day, Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think about my mother, the late June Whatley Braddy.

A hard-working woman of simple means (many times she was eligible for government assistance but was too proud to apply for and accept it), Mom died of cancer in late November 2007 after a not-so-easy life. (Don’t smoke, people!)

I can’t be 100 percent sure that I’ll see my mother in Heaven one day because, while I saw her walk to a church altar to accept Jesus Christ as her savior and later saw her being baptized, she lived a life afterward that at many times could not have been pleasing to God.

But, this I do know: I will be forever grateful that Mom was a regular church-goer at one time, bringing me and my sister and brother with her, and that as a result I was “born again,” accepting Jesus as my savior in July 1969 at First Baptist Church in Green Forest, Ark.

(My father was serving in the U.S. Army in West Germany at the time. I wonder whether Mom ever told him what had happened to me — to us — in church while he was away.)

I loved and appreciated my mother for many things and for many reasons, but I especially loved her for bringing me to church with her during a period in her life — though brief — when church and the Lord seemed to be important to her.

What once was considered right is now called ‘extreme’

Sunday, May 13, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — One thing I read Friday and another thing I heard this morning at church together summed up well the awful state of this nation and this world.

Here’s what I saw Friday, for a newspaper dated for Saturday:

“Obama sets social issues trap for (GOP presidential candidate Mitt) Romney ... Some believe the president aims to paint Republicans as cultural extremists ...”

Here’s what I heard from the pulpit from my pastor during the morning worship service today:

“The more the world goes to the left, the more extreme our Bible position sounds.”

The point?

What was decent, right, good, wholesome, acceptable and moral — such as marriage only between a man and a woman — not even a full generation ago is suddenly branded as “extreme” by the cultural and societal elitists and our so-called leaders, President Obama among them.

Truth and goodness and the standards for solid and sober living haven’t changed through the ages, but man has changed — for the worse. Increasingly, man has deviated from the good and proper and embraced the hollow worldliness that leads only to emptiness, ruined lives and sorrow.

In the case of our nation, the path it’s on, the path chosen by our current government, will result not in continued greatness but in second-rate status.

Man was warned thousands of years ago that the time will come when evil is called good and good is called evil. That time has arrived. That time is now.

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.

Pat Borders, the newly named head baseball coach at Winter Haven High School, is pictured on a Topps baseball card as a player for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Forever Blue: Once
a Jay, Borders now the top Devils coach

Saturday, May 5, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — In their new head baseball coach, the Winter Haven High School Blue Devils are getting someone who knows just a little bit about baseball.

That’s an understatement, of course. A big understatement.

Pat Borders, 48, spent about 23 years in pro ball, 17 of them in the major leagues. Drafted out of Lake Wales High School by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982, he was the starting catcher when the Jays won their back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. For the 1992 Series, Borders was named the most valuable player.

Currently an assistant with the Blue Devils, Borders has two sons on the baseball team.

News of Borders’ appointment instantly reminded me of my sports-writing days as a young newspaper guy and my stint as editor of Canada News (before the Internet and cheaper computers helped to put the niche weekly newspaper out of business).

I covered Borders during his star baseball- and football-playing days for the Highlanders in Lake Wales and, with Canada News, interviewed him in 1994 at the site of a house he was building on a nice piece of property near Lake Wales.

In my only one-on-one encounter with Borders, by then a household name among pro baseball fans and a majority of Polk County residents, I found him to be approachable, humble and gracious.

It’s nice to know that this former big-time baseball star has stayed close to his roots and is coaching ball locally — and not off in some faraway city like Toronto or Seattle, another one of his stops as a major-leaguer.

Here’s wishing Borders, the players he coaches and the teams he leads much success.

Note: A search of “Pat Borders” on the Internet revealed some information about him that I had forgotten. For one thing, he was a member of the U.S. baseball team that won the gold medal during the 2000 summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. And, during the latter part of his major-league career, he played for the Cleveland Indians (1997-99), which means that he spent a lot of time behind home plate at Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes Stadium, the former spring training home of the Indians.

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?

‘Equality’ doesn’t always contribute to the good of society

Saturday, May 23, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — I had heard that The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland had spoken favorably on its opinion page about President Barack Hussein Obama’s new “personal” support for same-sex (gay) “marriage.”

Today I finally confirmed that May 12 Ledger editorial, and I immediately thought about how I would have been run out of Winter Haven on a rail had I still been editor of the News Chief newspaper and expressed a similar viewpoint.

The editorial praised the president for “clarifying his view on gay marriage,” saying it was “a step forward in favor of fairness and equality in America.”

I have to ask: How is it fair, equal or even good to promote the breakdown of an institution — marriage — that was created for a man and a woman and intended to produce children, create families and promote societal stability? And how is it fair and equal to promote and condone unnatural and immoral behavior — homosexuality — and a twisted form of union between a woman and another woman or between a man and another man?

The truth is, marriage laws have always been fair and equal to gays. Homosexual adults have always had the right to marry — just not to a person of the same sex.

The Ledger’s stance on this issue is decidedly out of touch with traditional societal norms and decidedly out of touch with mostly conservative Polk County. Why is this kind of backward thinking tolerated in our own backyard? Why is the president’s position on gay “marriage” tolerated nationwide?

Because people who know what’s right don’t speak out for what’s right.

Because people who once might have had a foundation built on truth and morality have cracked under the weight of lies and society’s increasing immorality.

Because people who should care seemingly don’t care.

What kind of woman
converts to Islam?

The question was asked the other day (by a person I greatly admire and respect): “Why would any woman want to convert to Islam?”

The question was asked mainly in the context of American or Western women, not those born and raised in a Muslim country or predominately Muslim culture.

The question was asked with the full knowledge and understanding that women in the Islamic religion and culture are treated as something even less than second-class citizens. In Muslim-dominated lands, the dogs at home and on the street get more respect than women and wives, the person with the original question observed.

It’s a question not easily answered (Could Islam’s Western women converts have a mental screw or two loose?), but perhaps our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, can address it. After all, he seems to have a “special” insight into Islam that no other U.S. president has had. — JB (Aug. 16, 2012)

The U.S. Treasury
must be hurting

Because of some technical problems with e-filing, I had to mail to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service a paper version of the family’s 2011 tax return.

That was on May 19. (Yes, the return was late, but it was filed within the rules.)

As of this writing, almost three months after mailing the return, we’re still waiting on the refund to hit our savings account. An Internet-based inquiry with the IRS about the status of refund provided only this response: “Your tax return has been received and is being processed.”

Having waited this long for the refund, I can only surmise that Uncle Sam, with his $15.9 trillion in federal public debt, thinks he needs the money more than I do. — JB (Aug. 16, 2012)

Aug. 23 update: With midnight approaching today, there’s still no sign of a tax refund. Where are the tax return processors for the IRS? Have they been conscripted for service in President Obama’s re-election army? Just wondering ...

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)

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)

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: The biggest and baddest strikes that can be given go to a federal appeals court that on May 31 struck down a key provision to the Defense of Marriage Act. A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals — located in Boston in the heart of the land of liberals, socialists, “enlightened” college professors and Barney Franks — rule unanimously that the section of the act that defines marriage as being the union of a man and woman is unconstitutional.

Strikes: To the Obama administration for not coming to the defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, we know now that President Obama is just fine and dandy with the “marriage” of homosexuals.

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.

For the pro-choicers, read
this important message

Monday, July 30, 2012


On Townhall.com on July 21, columnist Ken Blackwell wrote an article titled “President Obama's Covert Zeal.” He makes the point that President Barack Obama is the single most driven president we have had when it comes to the abortion issue. He has even directed efforts at other countries around the world to promote pro-choice policies in their lands. Apparently, the 50 million aborted babies we have seen here do not satisfy him. We are not aborting babies fast enough for him.

In recent times, there have been numerous attempts to legislate the onset of “personhood.” In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court itself has hinted that such an action by Congress would be the way to curb abortion by using the 14th Amendment. It deals with the use of the word “person” to enumerate the protections afforded to each citizen in matters of due process and equal protection of rights. When we define personhood to commence at the point of conception, that child would become protected immediately.

Several years ago, when he was asked about the moment when a person is actually formed, Obama very glibly remarked, “That is above my pay grade.” This is hardly surprising. Much of what he has done since he has assumed presidential office has been above his pay grade. His background does not contain evidence of any business or organizational leadership skills. He served less than one term in the U.S. Senate, voting “present” a large percentage of the time.

In recent years, a number of states have fought to reduce the number of abortions by requiring pregnant women to witness the scanned images of the growing babies within their wombs. This has brought about a slight reduction in abortions. Seeing the beating heart of a living child can have a great impact on a mother-to-be. No longer can she delude herself into believing the baby is only a thing.

I would like something else to be added to the attempts at persuasion to choose life. Ken Blackwell has included a quotation that I have read sometime in the past. Unfortunately, it slipped away into the unknown. It is a keeper that could be as persuasive as an ultrascan image. After describing the actions of the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, he goes on to include the following paragraph:

“Like the Clintons, President Obama opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions. Nurse Brenda Pratt Shafer described what she saw in a partial-birth abortion. It requires re-reading now: ‘I stood at the doctor's side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant. The baby's heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the baby’s body and arms, everything but his little head. The baby’s body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet. The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby’s head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. Then the doctor opened the scissors and he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen.’ ”

I don’t know how any person could see an ultrasound image and read a description like this and even consider supporting abortion. We all need to support the issue of personhood when it comes up in our states. We need to do our part to stop the next 50 million babies from ending up in millions of medical waste buckets.

The time will come in the future when all of us are going to stand before the Creator of all babies. I would like to be there when President Obama learns the true meaning of the term “pay grade.”

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla., and compiler of the “Styles of Smiles” column that runs monthly in the News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven. At this posting, he is back at his summertime home in Maine and can be reached by e-mail at jackmurphy27@gmail.com.

Justice Roberts: Did he ‘go liberal’ or was opinion a brilliant ruse?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Our U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010), otherwise known as Obamacare.

At the conclusion of Chief Justice John Roberts’ remarks, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia bowed his head, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch's jaw dropped, Glenn Beck went absolutely bananas and Rush Limbaugh used every negative adjective in his extensive vocabulary, throwing in a few well-chosen expletives for flavor.

Their reactions are classic examples of one’s use of tongue before engaging the brain. In all cases, their reaction was the instantaneous response to a judicial decision never contemplated. That’s understandable. What isn’t understandable is that none of America’s pundits have bothered to read Roberts’ remarks! Justice Roberts carefully and purposely outlined the reasons for his decision, which eventually will be classified as one of the most brilliant judicial acts in Supreme Court history!


U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, above left, is being hailed by the left and derided by the right as the man who, by and large, saved ObamaCare following the high court’s review of the controversial health-care legislation. In the other image, submitted by Pixie Rubin, Lady Liberty weeps as the United States of America becomes the United Socialist States of America.

ObamaCare clarified as the nation’s largest tax increase

Friday, June 29, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The convoluted and muddled thinking that went into the deplorable salvation of ObamaCare by the U.S. Supreme Court deserves at least a convoluted and muddled response by Joe Q. Public.

The following stream of consciousness is not a knee-jerk reaction to the court’s Thursday (June 28) release of the 5-4 decision that basically preserves the 2011 Affordable Care Act, better known derisively as ObamaCare. No, several hours have gone by since the decision was announced, providing ample time for a wide and swinging range of emotions, among them surprise, anger, amazement, disappointment, sadness, melancholy, resignation, motivation and determination.

Perhaps something here will make sense. If it doesn’t, it wouldn’t be any different than all the other nonsensical things going on — and going on with greater frequency — in this once-great nation of ours.

• When news of the Supreme Court’s decision came live, between 10 and 10:30 a.m., the immediate reaction here was great disppointment rather than anger. I was disappointed because ObamaCare was — and now remains — bad and overreaching law that will cost the nation and its people dearly on more than just a financial level.

• Given the negative trend of recent national developments — on “gay marriage,” immigration, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the economy, for example — I wasn’t surprised that the close vote by the high court favored President Barack Hussein Obama and the liberals who gave us ObamaCare. What did surprise me, and surprised me greatly, was the justice who provided the swing vote — Chief Justice John Roberts. I thought, like many others, that had ObamaCare passed constitutional muster, that Justice Anthony Kennedy would have been the deciding vote. Instead, Kennedy strongly dissented with the majority, rightly arguing that ObamaCare had no constitutional ground to stand on.

• Roberts found that while ObamaCare, and its mandate that everyone buy health-care insurance, wouldn’t be permissable under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution — Congress can’t force anyone to buy insurance or any other commodity — it is constitutional under the taxing clause, with Congress able to modify behavior and induce social change through the tax code and tax penalties. Oh, what a can of worms that reasoning will open! Roberts, the so-called conservative chief justice, today must be a big disappointment to George W. Bush, the man who nominated him to the Supreme Court. Aided by the four liberals on the court, Roberts basically rewrote ObamaCare by judicial fiat to make it work and avoid rejecting it.

• If, as Roberts and the liberal justices reasoned, ObamaCare funding has legitimacy as a tax-and-spend enterprise, the court’s ruling clarifies the health insurance act as a monumental tax increase — the largest one in U.S. history and perhaps the largest in world history. And it provides conservatives, libertarians and Tea Party types with another mighty campaign issue leading up to the presidential and congressional elections.

• ObamaCare wasn’t sold as a tax measure. In fact, the president went out of his way on many occasions before the act was voted on to state that it wasn’t a tax. He knew the American public wouldn’t accept a huge tax increase in the midst of a great economic recession. He also knew that he had pledged no new taxes for anyone with an annual income less than $250,000. So, what the Supreme Court has done is to tag ObamaCare with the label that opponents rightly applied to it before and after it was passed — a tax increase with huge economic and societal costs. Given that ObamaCare was sold as a lie, I would like nothing more than to have it go to a revote in Congress as a tax issue rather than a health-care and health insurance issue. The big question is: How many Democrats would support the act a second time around in its proper context as a tax increase?

• ObamaCare is less of a health insurance and health-care overhaul than another liberal-socialist ploy to make more people more dependent upon the government. And it’s just a transitional step toward the planned-for creation of a single-payer insurance system with federal government in charge of all facets of health care in this country. In the run-up to the 2008 election, Obama made it clear to the unions that strongly support him that he, too, wants a single-payer system but that the American people have to be conditioned over time to accept it. In that effort, the president found an unlikely ally in the U.S. Supreme Court and, more so, in Chief Justice John Roberts.

Initial great disappointment in the Supreme Court decision led to optimism that ObamaCare’s survival, and its proper labeling as the nation’s largest-ever tax increase, will be the pivotal event that motivates and energizes the right to work harder than ever to elect more conservatives to Congress and to help Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (the “Repeal and Replace ObamaCare” candidate) make Barack Obama a one-term president. Given its blessing by the U.S. Supreme Court, the only way now to get rid of ObamaCare is to toss out of office the people who forced it upon us and the man for which it is not so lovingly named.

Sunrises over the Atlantic were great vacation treats

Thursday, June 21, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. —— I took a brief vacation trip to a beach on Florida’s east coast recently, and among my most enjoyable moments was the time I spent watching the sun come up over the Atlantic Ocean on back-to-back mornings.

Here is a photo I took on the second morning. It was a beautiful and glorious morning indeed.

It occurred to be me later, on the drive back home to Winter Haven, that I’ve seen a lot of sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico, but I can’t recall a previous time that I awoke really early at an Atlantic-side beach and watched a sunrise over the ocean.

In all of my almost 52 years, I’ve been missing out on some truly wonderful treats.

Wanted: Many good people to counter cumulative evil

Sunday, June 10, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Though there is nothing in his many speeches or writings to prove that these exact words are his, the often-used quote above is largely attributed to Edmund Burke.

Burke (1729-1797) was an Ireland-born statesman, author, orator and political philosopher who, after moving to England, was elected to the House of Commons in the British Parliament.

According to some information found on the Internet, the quote familiar to so many of us is a summary of sorts to something Burke said during a speech he made to the House of Commons on April 23, 1770:

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Regardless of the way the statement Burke originally made evolved into the quote we know today, the truth of it cannot be denied. The warning cannot be any more clear, and neither can it be ignored.

From this vantage point, the once-great United States of America is spiraling down toward mediocrity, irrelevancy and even has-been status at an astonishing and frightening pace — a pace that sometimes takes the breath away.

Though there are rays of hope, such as the recent vote of confidence Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker received in an election conjured up to recall him, each day that goes by, government — government at all levels and in all branches — chips away at our individual liberties, saps away our economic resources and chomps away at our once-strong moral foundation.


Our fallen warriors: Are their lives given or taken?

Monday, June 4, 2012


In his remarks at Arlington National Cemetary on Memorial Day 1982, President Reagan said, in part, “... the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country.”

That choice of words has always seemed a “little off” to me. I don’t mean to sound critical of President Reagan, because I admired him greatly. This reference to the deaths of the fallen in war is commonly used by many writers and observers of conflict.

I have felt for some time that these heroes have not really given their lives in the strict use of the word. No one wants to give away his life. In certain circumstances, like those who have covered the body of another with their own, or thrown themselves on a hand grenade, it certainly would apply. The person clearly knows the result of his action in these cases. In most situations, though, members of a fighting force are focussed on fighting the enemy, achieving victory, and returning home to their families alive and well, as they certainly should.

When a life is lost to an IED, a rocket burst or a bullet, it might be more appropriate to say the life was taken rather than given. This places more emphasis on the enemy, who is fully responsible for the resulting death.

Our fighting men and women bravely place themselves in danger from the evil forces that threaten their families and other citizens. Saying that they go there “to give their lives for their country” is not that flattering, in my opinion. It gives the anti-war cynic an opening to inaccurately portray what is happening here. Those who seek personal empowerment by belittling those engaged in war can characterize it as throwing away a precious gift casually.

Anyone who willingly acts to protect the helpless by entering into a situation fraught with life-ending events merely seconds away, during every moment of every day, is certainly deserving to be called a hero. Even if his body escapes physical harm externally, he returns home with a badly stress-scarred soul.

I don't want any young people going off to war “to give their lives” for me. I want them to return to their wives and children, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. If some of them do not return, I want the record to show clearly that their lives were taken from them by those with evil in their hearts.

Jack Murphy of Maine is a winter resident of Frostproof, Fla., and compiler of the “Styles of Smiles” column that runs monthly in the News Chief newspaper in Winter Haven. At this posting, he is back at his summertime home in Maine and can be reached by e-mail at jackmurphy27@gmail.com.

If alcohol is involved, it’s not ‘‘family entertainment’

Saturday, May 26, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. —— Well, this is disappointing.

The powers-that-be at Legoland Florida have asked for and received from the Polk County Board of Adjustment permission to sell alcoholic beverages.

So much for “family entertainment.”

The new theme park had sought an exemption from a county code that bars the sale and consumption of alcohol within 1,000 feet of a church or school. The exemption was necessary because two churches are located nearby.

According to a newspaper report, Legoland Florida General Manager Adrian Jones told the Board of Adjustment on Thursday that the company eventually wants to be able to sell beer and wine at a resort hotel planned for a later phase of park development. But he also said a restaurant in the new water park the attraction opened to the public today (May 26) might soon sell beer and wine to adult guests.

Jones said hotel guests would expect to find there a restaurant that serves alcohol, and he said park guests have indicated in comments it was “almost expected” that beer and wine would be sold at a water park.

And besides, park officials, the park’s alcohol advocates and most members of the Board of Adjustment say, all the other theme parks are selling alcohol.

Perhaps we should get comfort in knowing that Legoland Florida isn’t seeking a state license to sell distilled beverages. You know, hard liquor — vodka, whiskey, rum and the like.

I’m not comforted by any kind of alcohol being served at this “family” theme park, one at which the target guests are children ages 2 through 12 and their parents (and a business I really want to like for its local economic benefits). And it seems quite contradictory that a company that prides itself in providing wholesome “family entertainment” would seek permission to sell adult beverages, no matter how strong or light the alcohol content.

Family entertainment and alcohol are not compatible. More than that, family and alcohol are not compatible. I have some experience with that, having grown up quite unpleasantly at times with parents and, briefly, a stepfather who drank irresponsibly and often.

Unless the only interest is money, and the love of it, nothing good in the long term comes from the sale and consumption of alcohol — especially when children are part of the mix.

Moral clarity? Don’t look for it in the White House

Thursday, May 10, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — That big “SMOOOOOOCH!” you heard Wednesday night was the collective lip-locking of gays and lesbians all over the nation — perhaps all over the world — as they celebrated President Barack Hussein Obama’s new-found position on homosexual “marriage.”

The president, a “committed Christian” as described by his staff, now supports same-sex “marriage” after not supporting it just a few years ago.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married,” the president said in a Wednesday interview with ABC News.

So, not only is Obama the first black U.S. president, he’s made history again as the first U.S. president to openly support gay “marriage.”

That’s just so … so … progressive of our esteemed and enlightened president. So forward-thinking, the homosexuals say. And, according to some pundits, so very bold and courageous of Obama — especially in an election year.

And so very, very wrong.

The president’s statement on gay “marriage” was set up unintentionally or intentionally — the latter probably is more the truth, given the cold calculations of this White House — by a comment Vice President Joe Biden made over the weekend.

Biden said on one of the news shows Sunday that he is “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex “marriage.”

Obama’s team initially raced to distance the president from Biden’s “personal” view, saying the vice president’s comments did not reflect a change in administration policy on the issue of gay “marriage.” But then the president and his handlers saw in some twisted way what they thought was a political opportunity and seized upon it.

The now-shared view by Obama and Biden on same-sex “marriage” — “marriage” in this context is in quotation marks because anything other than a union of a man and woman is not marriage — really is not a surprise, knowing the kind of anti-tradition, cross-cultural, anti-social, anti-moral and un-American people that voters ushered into high U.S. office four years ago. This issue is not the reason to vote in new, better, stronger more moral leadership this November, but it’s yet another reason to do just that.

Make no mistake, Obama and Biden are wrong in their support of same-sex “marriage” because the basis for it, homosexual behavior (a choice, not a predisposition), is wrong.

Absent of God, natural order and just plain common sense tell us that homosexuality is not natural and that gay “marriage” makes no sense.

Enter God, and we find that not only is homosexuality a sin, it is a sin of the highest order — an abominable sin.

That’s not man, commentary writers or even preachers talking; that’s God on high talking.

If Obama, the “committed Christian,” and Biden, a self-described Catholic Christian, would reach for their family Bible, dust it off and turn to Leviticus in the Old Testament, they will find these verses (God speaking through Moses):

• Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. — Leviticus 18:22

• If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. — Leviticus 20:13

The God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God of righteousness and justice and the Author of morality and salvation is supreme, and His Word is the first and final authority on matters such as this. But, it appears that our president and vice president, after three and a half years in their lofty positions, think they know better.

What arrogance! What foolishness!

The president said his new position on same-sex “marriage” represents an “evolution” of thought on the matter — from once opposing gay “marriage” to now embracing it. More accurately, it represents a further devolution of the American culture, a further breakdown in societal structure and another giant crack in the moral foundation of this once-great nation.

Don’t expect greatness from America and don’t expect blessings from on high when we as a people and the people who lead us don’t act with moral clarity.

From God’s perfect joke comes a pair of lessons

Saturday, May 19, 2012


On one particular Friday night, after watching the 11 o’clock news, I went to bed. As a man with apnea, I can’t sleep on my back, so I habitually sleep on one side or the other.

On this night, I had trouble clearing my head of all my computer plans and couldn’t get to sleep. After lying on one side for a while, I felt the need to turn over. Often I play a sort of game where I try to guess the time on the digital clock across the room before I turn over. This time I closed my eyes and saw 12:15. When I turned over, there it was exactly — 12:15. I was amazed and amused.

After lying there a while longer, I again felt the need to turn over. I closed my eyes and concentrated. I saw the red numerals, 12:35, as clear as anything. I turned over, and to my amazement, the clock said exactly 12:35.

Now, I was really impressed!

Of all the possible numbers I could have chosen, guessing these two times with complete accuracy — right to the minute — was far beyond the laws of chance. No way could this have happened without some kind of spiritual involvement.

The thought occurred to me that maybe it was possible that God was planning to grant me some kind of special power to foretell numerical choices. I thought how wonderful that would be and actually spoke to God directly, asking for such a thing to take place. I assured Him I would treat such a power with respect and only use it for good.

Then I tried to relax and go to sleep despite my excitement. Before long, my shoulder felt a little stiff and I needed to turn over again. This was it. This was the big one.


The lead image on the website of French President-elect Franois Hollande has a simple message of “Merci” — “Thank you” — to the voters of France. The added inset images are the French flag and the rose-adorned logo of the French Socialist party.

With election of a socialist, French say ‘Give us more’

Monday, May 7, 2012


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — So, the French have elected a socialist to be their president.

Franois Hollande, 57, a former Socialist party leader, will be moving into lyse palace in Paris and single-term President Nicolas Sarkozy will be moving out.

According to the news reports, Hollande will be the first Socialist party member in 17 years to serve as French president. Big “S” Socialist? Perhaps. But little “s” socialist? No.

What the people of France actually did Sunday was elect as their president someone who wears the “Socialist” label on his sleeve rather than re-elect a socialist-light like Sarkozy.

Given the political and social mind-set in France and its deeply embedded big-government welfare and entitlement programs, only a socialist to one degree or another will ever be elected president over there.

A true conservative as defined in the United States — someone who believes in capitalism, free markets, low corporate and individual tax rates, personal liberty, individual responsibility, a strong work ethic among the people, national sovereignty and limited government — likely will never be elected president of France.

Analysis of Sunday’s election indicates that in electing Hollande, the French made Sarkozy another victim of the anti-austerity wave that has swept Europe and swept out leaders who have tried to undo some of the great economic damage done by decades of socialist policies.

In rejecting “austerity”— in reality just a minor rollback in government spending to help right their nation’s sinking economic ship — the French have re-embraced liberal spending policies. And they have embraced Hollande, who has promised in many ways to give them just that. That’s what a socialist does.

Laughingly, Hollande said during the presidential campaign that he wants to promote “growth” alongside the nation’s austerity drive. “Growth” in France and in most of Western Europe means only one thing: Growth in government spending on social and entitlement programs — not economic growth. “Growth” in that sense and “austerity” cannot co-exist.

The French didn’t do themselves any favors by electing Hollande as their president, but, then again, the French haven’t done much right since the nation backed the American colonies in the Revolutionary War against Great Britain.

Since then, the French have become lazy, weak, unproductive, selfish, self-absorbed and difficult-to-like whiners, content to feed off whatever they can sap from their government and the few economic producers their nation can muster.

But, perhaps that’s too harsh. Perhaps that’s being way too tough on the French. Because what they did Sunday wasn’t any different than what voters in this nation did nearly four years ago — elect a socialist as president.

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.


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.”


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 the written consent of the artist.)

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” — Jimmy Johnson Super Bowl-winning former NFL coach

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.” — Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), 40th president of the United States

“Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.” — William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), American abolitionist, journalist and social reformer

An excerpt from remarks by President Ronald Reagan during Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, May 31, 1982:

“ ... I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.

“Yet, we must try to honor them — not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.

“Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves. ...”

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer, pictorial artist, biologist and theoretical physicist

“The moral imaginations of Americans, which is so much a part of our national character, is inseparable from our religious roots.” — Paul Greenberg (1937-), columnist and political commentator

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.” — Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794), American statesman from Virginia and signatory to the U.S. Declaration of Independence

“There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), American World War II hero and 34th president of the United States

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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)

“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

“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

“Make use of time. Let not advantage slip.” — William Shakespeare (1554-1616), English poet, dramatist and actor

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” — Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th president of the United States

“It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. — From the “Discourse on Voluntary Servitude” (1548) by French political philosopher tienne de La Botie (1530-1563)

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” — Margaret Thatcher (1925-), conservative British politician and first woman to serve as British prime minister

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: ...” — Matthew 7:13 (the words of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount)

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” — James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937), Scottish novelist and dramatist and creator of Peter Pan

“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” — Written by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a 2008 and 2012 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, in his book, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”(2008)

“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

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

“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)

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

Man: “So, do you want to go out, maybe?” Woman: “Sorry. I don’t date outside my species.”

What’s the world’s most popular wine? “I don’t like Brussels sprouts.”

A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumor.

If you smuggle cars into the country, are you trafficking? — Contributed by Jack Murphy

I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.

How bad is the U.S. economy? Jury duty is now considered to be a good-paying job.

Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity.

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

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

Site contents copyright 2012 PolkCommentary.com
Comments? Editorial contributions? E-mail polkcommentary@gmail.com