Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beyond the headlines

As a class, politicians have never been known for maintaining close relationships with truth and integrity. Yet even by the dismal standards of politicians, Barack Obama has managed to sink to a new low ever since the debates and Benghazi began exposing the deep cracks in his foundation.

Ideally, presidential campaigns should be focused, and decided, on candidates’ positions regarding economic policy, national defense, and constitutional fidelity. But with a week to go until the 2012 election, Obama has chosen to avoid those issues and base his campaign on personal attacks against Mitt Romney.

Since his avoidance of the issues is telling enough (it is obvious that he avoids them because he knows he can’t win on them) I say we should resist the temptation to try to make him talk about them anyway. Instead, I say we address Obama’s calumnies and contest him on his own terms, because even then he can’t win. And what could be a better argument against his reelection than that?

Obama has plenty of ads that are underhanded in their portrayal of Romney, but for me, the one which stands out most is the one that plays off of Romney’s “47 percent” comment. The ad begins by referencing the aphorism that your character is revealed by what when you do when nobody’s looking -- then, in dark tones, it accuses Romney of attacking 47 percent of Americans when he thought no one was looking/listening. The message is crystal clear and in your face: Mitt Romney is a bad person who looks down on nearly half of our citizens while dismissing their real life concerns.

That message is false and intended to defame, and therefore it qualifies as slander by any common sense definition. It would be easy to respond to it by pointing out that Obama thought no one was looking/listening when he made his “bitter clingers” comment during the last campaign. But that response, while accurate, would not be sufficient. What must be stressed to the public is how utterly false the ad’s whole premise is -- an end that can be achieved by simply pointing to facts about Romney’s life.

I have long known of the morally driven actions Romney took when the daughter of one of his co-workers disappeared during a visit to New York in 1996. Far from being a business-first, money-first guy, he closed Bain Capital’s headquarters, travelled to New York, flew in all 50 Bain employees, and had everybody set out to find the missing 14-year-old. Romney hired private eyes, worked with the police department, and had his people (not just Bain employees, but also employees of other companies who did business with Bain) distribute 300,000 missing person fliers throughout the city. Bain set up a tip line, and the girl was found after someone called it.

While that incident is a sterling testament to one man’s goodness, it turns out that it is only one of many such testaments in the life of Mitt Romney. Here are some others that were recently highlighted in a column by Deroy Murdock, which he penned after reading an exposition by TheDaily.com’s Mara Gay, Dan Hirschhorn and M.L. Nestel:

After a 12-year-old boy died of cystic fibrosis in the 1980’s, Romney built -- with his own hands, not just his own money -- a playground in the boy’s honor. In subsequent years he again used his own hands, along with help from local Boy Scouts, to maintain that playground, which is known as Joey’s Park.

After learning that a single mom had had her heating oil shut off one cold Massachusetts winter, he and his sons filled their family car with firewood, delivered it to her home, and personally built a fire to keep the mom and her kids warm.

He paid the college tuition of a young woman who had been just five years old when her father, a co-worker of Romney’s, passed away. That woman is now a physician.

After learning that the sons of a new-to-town couple were paralyzed in a car accident, Romney, along with his wife and sons, purchased and hand-delivered Christmas presents to them. He went on to pay for their college and organize several fundraisers for their benefit.

Once, when a neighborhood home caught fire, he organized a random group of neighbors who entered the building to retrieve valuables until firefighters arrived on the scene.

During his time as governor of Massachusetts, while vacationing at Lake Winnipesaukee, he and his sons saw a boat sinking some 900 feet away. They set out on jet skis and rescued the passengers, with Romney himself making three trips transporting people to shore from the spot where the boat went under.

Those are the things Mitt Romney does without wondering if anyone is looking or listening. By contrast, Barack Obama, a millionaire who is arguably the most powerful man on earth, and who constantly lectures others about being their brothers’ keepers, will not spend a dime to assist his very own poverty-stricken brother who lives in a ghetto hut in Kenya.

Against this backdrop of facts, doesn’t it seem wrong that Obama and his media acolytes would have you believe it is Romney who suffers from lack of empathy? If empathy is really what matters most -- as Obama’s own campaign strategy suggests it is -- then the choice is clear: Vote for Mitt Romney come November 6th.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Debate Dispatch

Contrary to what all liberals (and many conservatives) started saying when last night's presidential debate drew to an end, I think Romney was the clear winner.

Yes, Obama was not catatonic like he was in the first debate, a fact which pleased his perpetually petulant base. But it takes a lot more than mere lack of catatonia to win a debate in which substance matters and the most important job in the world is on the line.

It was obvious that Obama simply has no plan for the next four years, whereas Romney does. The already troubling notion of a president seeking reelection without even saying what he wants to accomplish should he get reelected, becomes even more troubling when you consider that his record during the four years he has already been president is so poor he does not even attempt to defend it.

Romney may not have hit as many home runs as some conservatives perceive he should have, but he always got on base and never struck out. From start to finish he answered what was asked, displayed command of facts and understanding of ideas, and comported himself respectfully...On the other hand, Obama was obviously sidestepping some questions; obviously lying when answering others; and frequently acting disrespectful...In short, Romney looked presidential and Obama looked petty.

The big, bottom line is that Romney did nothing last night to lose any of the votes he gained from so-called independents with the first debate; and Obama did nothing to regain any of their votes that he lost the last time around. In fact, Romney might have picked up even more votes from that demographic, given the differences between how he and Obama presented themselves.

Lastly, I have to mention that even though Obama told several whoppers during the debate, the one that struck me most was when he perpetuated the long-running liberal lie that 1) Planned Parenthood provides mammograms, and 2) Republicans are out to stop women from getting those mammograms by virtue of their desire to reduce the amount of taxpayer subsidies received by that cash-rich organization. The truth of the matter is that Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, nor does it provide any other services for detecting breast cancer.

Essentially, it is nothing more than a nationwide abortion mill and pro-abprtion political advocacy group. When asked about breast cancer screenings during an undercover investigation, a Planned Parenthood staffer stated “We don't offer those services whatsoever.” That any elected politician is allowed to get away with the Planned-Parenthood-as-healthcare-provider lie is nauseating. That the president is allowed to get away with it is reprehensible.

Electorally speaking, the best thing about the debates is that they have given people who intend to vote, but are not political buffs, a chance to see Romney unfiltered. Fortunately, those people are realizing that he is not the monster our president makes him out to be.

Monday, October 15, 2012


…from yesterday’s visit to Sweetfields Farm, where we were greeted by sunflowers:

And Parker was impressed by the pumpkins:

The main attraction, however, was this maze that has been cut into the farm’s cornfield. You enter on the southeastern edge of the field, where you are handed a piece of paper with questions on it, and after successfully navigating through the maze you exit on the southwestern edge close to where you started. Along the way you encounter six numbered signposts:

The numbers on the signs direct you to corresponding questions on the piece of paper. How you answer each question dictates whether you turn right or left at the sign, and of course, one of those directions leads inevitably to a dead end. Even if you turn the “right” direction, however, you will encounter numerous forks before reaching the next sign, and of course choosing the wrong fork will also lead to a dead end…so if you step into the maze, be aware that you might be there for a while:

Sweetfields is located in Hernando County and serves the community well. A true family farm, it is owned and operated by Ted and Lisa Kessel, who have two young children. They started the farm in 2008 with the goal of selling fresh produce directly to their customers, who either pick it themselves right from the plants or purchase it already picked. The Kessels’ philosophy and operation tends heavily on the organic side, and their crops run the gamut of fruits and vegetables, all the way from blackberries to watermelons and snap peas to zucchini.

With the corn maze open to the public and hundreds upon hundreds of visitors coming out to enjoy it, Sweetfields had the atmosphere of a festival on Sunday. The smell of kettlecorn wafted through the air while kids had their faces painted and petted a pregnant cow named Rosie. Pig races were staged and a tractor pulled people on hay rides across the property. The Kessels showed their contentment to local business by having a stand where Strong Tower Winery, a local vintner, offered up its wine both by the bottle and by the glass.

Sweetfields and its maze are open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays through November 4th, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with last admission at 4:00. Entry is $8.50 for ages twelve and up, $4.50 for ages three to eleven. A visit to this place just north of Masaryktown and east of U.S. 41 is a fine way to spend the day:

In closing, here is Sarah and her fake-looking grin after she finished fashioning straw into a miniature scarecrow:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alex Karras, RIP

It is mere weeks before the election, and Obama & Co. have been caught not only lying about the nature of last month’s attacks which killed our ambassador in Libya -- but also covering up the fact that in the weeks leading up to those attacks, they were warned about what might be coming yet refused the now-dead ambassador’s request for additional security.

That is the kind of scandal that would be receiving 24/7 media coverage if Obama was a Republican, but is instead getting scant attention since he is a Democrat. In other words, it is the kind of thing I would normally be writing about feverishly. However, I am instead moved to write about the passing of a septuagenarian who was in the sad, early stages of dementia.

Alex Karras was born in Gary, Indiana, to an immigrant doctor at the height of the Great Depression. He made his first marks on the national scene during the 1950’s, as an All-American football player at the University of Iowa, where he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top defensive lineman. He was so dominant that he did something almost unthinkable for a defensive player, especially a defensive lineman -- come in second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy -- and eventually he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Karras moved on to the NFL and played twelve seasons for the Detroit Lions, during which he missed only one game and was named to four Pro Bowls. Among his opponents and teammates, it is a nearly unanimous opinion that Karras was the best at his position during the 1960’s. Mike Ditka, who played tight end for the Bears at the time, said “I know there was Big Daddy Lipscomb. There were a lot of guys. But he was the best. I think if (Coach) Halas would have put in a play where I had to block him, I would have said, ‘No thanks.’”

Alex Karras’s last year in the NFL was 1970. I was born in 1971. Therefore, I never got to see him play, but that did not mean I was ignorant of who he was. For in an age when football was less popular than baseball and athletes rarely went on to become multimedia personalities, Karras proved to be ahead of his time by parlaying his gridiron notoriety into a television and film career that spanned decades.

Many people of my generation remember him mostly as the adoptive father of the title character in the 1980’s sitcom Webster. Many others remember him mostly as the hulking dunce from Blazing Saddles who punched out a horse and described himself as a “pawn in game of life.” I, on the other hand, remember him mostly from the first role I saw him in -- that of Hans “Potato” Brumbaugh, the innovative farmer in the 1978 miniseries Centennial, which was a faithful adaptation of James Michener’s epic novel about the settlement of Colorado.

Alex Karras is survived by six children and his wife Susan, an actress who appeared with him as his character’s fictional wife in Webster. They also appeared as small screen husband-and-wife back in 1975, in the made-for-TV movie Babe. That movie was a biopic in which she played legendary golfer Babe Didrickson Zaharias and he played Zaharias’s husband George. In a side note that is probably interesting only to me, I would love to see Babe sometime, because in real life the Zahariases resided in the neighborhood where Erika and I purchased our first home; and she designed the golf course that still wends through the neighborhood and bears her name to this day.

But I digress. There is much more to Alex Karras’s life story that what I have written here. For example, see wrestling; and 1963, suspension; and 1966, George Plimpton. But always know that the life of this big, stocky individual personifies much of what makes America great. Rest in peace.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


…from this morning’s early bike ride down country lanes.

Fog made it hard for the sun to break through...

...while depositing its moisture on the gossamer of spiders and needles of pines...

I have always known that cattle graze, but not until today, when I encountered the following sight, did I realize they forage as well:

Although she appears to be staring me down in a not-so-pleased kind of way, the following Brahman was peaceful enough and happy enough to have her picture taken:

I never take my Canon on bike rides -- because my cell phone takes incredible photos and the Canon’s size and changeable lenses aren’t practical on a bike -- but I regretted being Canon-less for a few minutes this morning. Why? Because I watched a bald eagle land in an oak, and the zoom on my cell phone just wasn’t good enough to capture the kind of picture our national symbol deserves. After both zooming and cropping, here is what I got:

My angst was short-lived, however. When you are treated to views like this…

…and glimpses of equines like these…

…how can you possibly complain?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

et ceteras

Presidential debates. I hate ’em.

I hate ’em because the candidates have much less time than is necessary to answer the questions being posed…I hate ’em because the majority of questions are predicated on damn lies false assumptions that prevent the Republican one of the candidates from addressing the real issue because he must instead spend his allotted time rebutting the question’s premise…I hate ’em because Republicans candidates sometimes choose to answer a loaded question without rebutting its premise, thereby lending credence to the premise in the eyes of some viewers…And I hate ’em because the nature of television causes a candidate’s appearance to carry more weight than the logic and veracity of his answers.

For the reasons stated above, I have had a hard time sitting through a debate for many years. I always find myself hitting pause to explain to Erika why the question was ridiculous, or why the Democrat’s answer was dishonest, or how the Republican’s answer could have been worded better. Therefore, I am not glued to my television tonight. It’s better for my blood pressure that way.

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Count me among those who are very suspicious about the accuracy of many recent polls and the veracity (there’s that word again) of those conducting them and commenting on them. I am not saying that Romney is ahead by ten points, or even two, but are we really supposed to believe that Obama has been enjoying a comfortable lead over him, even in swing states, when the last two years have seen the rise of the Tea Party be sustained, and an unprecedented GOP tsunami sweep Congress, and throngs of people dining at Chick-fil-A, and practically nobody in the world believing Obama’s cockamamie story about why the Middle East went aflame on the anniversary of 9/11?

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Are we really supposed to believe that Obama’s image as a uniting force will not be scathed by the recently released video of a racially tinged speech he delivered at Hampton University?

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Are we really supposed to believe that Univsion’s recent and very deep reporting on the Fast and Furious scandal will not cost him votes among Hispanics?

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Go here if you want to read a brilliantly blunt piece about the Western Left’s attitude toward Muslims.

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And getting away from politics, not long ago I linked to an interesting story about a very old cold case being solved. Well, tonight I am recommending this article, which is about another very old case being reopened after 43 years.

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Until next time, keep your chin up!