July 3, 2009

Rants and Other Observations

Category: News — Ira @ 5:40 pm


Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the
same reason.
—Author Unknown

There ought to be one day – just one – when there is open season on senators.
—Will Rogers

It’s July. The summer hums along. Independence Day. All the rah rah celebrations. Cookouts. Fireworks. Great puffery and proclamations from countless elected buffoons lauding our freedoms and liberties, even as they work tirelessly to destroy them.

On Independence Day, I plan to hang out with the same group as last year. My friend Dominic Haskin in West Virginia. This year, though, he is forgoing the pig roast. He’s serving normal stuff, like burgers and hot dogs and all the fixings.

It’s that way all across the land, I imagine. A little more subdued this year. What with the downturn in the economy and all the fears of layoffs and uncertainty about the future. Can’t blame folks for being skittish. I’ve got only myself to support. If I had a large family, I’d be skittish too. I’m more than half freaked out the way it is.

We’re a different country than we were twelve short months ago, or even six. Vastly different. And we’re picking up speed as the cliff’s edge looms.

Independence Day is morphing into Dependence Day.

Since the day King Obama ascended the throne and stretched out his mighty hand, our government has leeched its vile life-draining tentacles onto the throats of private businesses. Set out to destroy capitalism. Trillions of dollars created out of thin air. Czars for this and Czars for that, more offices being created each week. Spend our way to prosperity, even though it’s never worked, in all of history. And never will. Stimulus funds thrown about like so much graffiti. Bailouts of thug bankers, car companies. Too big to fail. GM now stands for Government Motors. (Dodge as well. Big Blue is shamed.) Soon we’ll all be driving rickety little carts on wheels, the green cars Obama envisions. Early this week, Obama lectured us about the light bulbs we use. It boggles the mind. The President of the United States, lecturing us about light bulbs.

And last week, our esteemed Congress passed Cap and Trade, ostensively to halt global warming. In reality, to exert more control, dictate our lives to the nth degree. And to raise taxes. Probably the most abominable piece of legislation ever produced in this country. At least until the new health care laws hit us later this year.

And right on cue this week, the vile vicious Al Franken was certified as Minnesota’s new Senator. As I predicted last November. If you live in Minnesota, get out. (I thought the Will Rogers quote above was particularly applicable in your state.)

The Nanny state engulfs us. It’s a mess. Nothing good can possibly come from it. And we ain’t seen nothing yet.

That’s my rant for this Fourth of July. I try to avoid ranting, and have been doing well resisting the occasional urge to do so. But sometimes it just can’t be helped.

After the weekend, I’m heading to Kentucky to spend a few days with family. Then home by late week. On Monday, I have a free day to meander. Not sure where I’ll go or what I’ll do. Maybe head into the Kentucky backwoods, and out again. If the moon-shiners don’t get me. Maybe I could learn their trade to help me through the coming hard times. Always a good market for liquid corn, or so I hear. Although to be truthful, the stuff I’ve sampled (years ago, of course) from a Mason jar was clear as water and tasted more like kerosene than anything else. I have no doubt it would burn as lamp fuel. Which of course would be its stated purpose if I were ever caught with any.

On the home front, well, it’s summer. I’m rolling along, taking in life’s little adventures, such as they are. One Saturday a few weeks ago, I emerged from Amelia’s, my favorite Bent and Dent store. Nothing more on my mind than running a few errands, perhaps hanging out for coffee with some friends that afternoon. As I boarded Big Blue, a tired-looking lady approached me, smiling hesitantly, making eye contact. Tall, pretty, about my age.

“Do you want to do your good deed for the day?” She asked. Still smiling hesitantly.

“What’s that?” I replied.

“My car won’t start,” she answered. “I need a jump.”

“Ahhh, I won’t be able to help,” I replied regretfully. “I’d sure like to. But I don’t have any jumper cables.”

She looked crestfallen. “My husband will have to drive over an hour to get here,” she said. “It would really be nice if someone could jumpstart my car.”

“Keep trying,” I said. “Someone around here’s got to have some cables.” I drove away. I felt bad. Guilty, even. I drive a big mean 4-wheel drive truck. You’d think there would be jumper cables in it somewhere. But no. I’d let her down.

It wouldn’t happen again. A few weeks later, while at a local hardware store, I bought the longest toughest pair of jumper cables they had in stock. Sixteen feet long, heavy 4 gauge. I’m ready for the next damsel in distress.

The summer’s brought its changes too. Lancaster for many decades published a morning paper (Intelligencer-Journal) and a late afternoon paper (New Era). Both pretty strange names for newspapers, and both were owned and published by the same company. The Intell was liberal, the New Era conservative. I think their readership was roughly the same.

The two newspapers have fallen on hard times, which has been happening a lot to newspapers lately. Across the country and the world. Advertising revenues tanked, along with the economy. Many proclaim the imminent end of printed news. Every-thing’s on the web now. So this week, after who knows how many decades of separate existence, the two local newspapers combined. The papers and the names. It’s now a morning edition. Which irritates me. I was a subscriber to the New Era, the afternoon edition.

It’s been a summer of passings, too, of some famous and infamous people.

Mr. George Tiller, the Butcher of Kansas, was sent to meet his Maker as he sat in church about a month ago. I can’t imagine what a man who performs late term abortions was doing, sitting in a church pew, but he was. A mentally deranged man, quickly labeled a “right wing terrorist” by the media, shot Mr. Tiller and he died shortly thereafter.

Mr. Tiller was directly responsible for the murders of thousands upon thousands of fully formed babies. He was among the few persons in this nation whose primary practice was late term abortions. Where all but the baby’s head is extracted from the womb, then the baby’s brains are skewered and sucked out with a vacuum. Murderous. Brutal. Barbaric.

Perhaps Mr. Tiller is now being confronted and accused by the thousands he slew. I’m not sure how that works. But I won’t judge. Perhaps he had time before he died to repent and cry out for the blood that even at that late moment would have cleansed even him of the terrible stains of innocent blood that drenched his soul.

I don’t know if most people will remember where they were when they heard Michael Jackson died, but I will. I was at the gym, winding down on the treadmill. Watching the captioned newsflashes on TV. And then it flickered across the screen. LA Times: Michael Jackson is dead.

I’ve never been much of a fan of Jackson’s. Like most people, I considered him pretty much a loon. But still, the news jolted me. He’s been around so long, you don’t expect him to just up and die. At fifty years old. Back in the late 1980s, early 1990s, the man cranked out some half decent music. And few could match his dancing skills.

But after his original success, somehow, something went dreadfully wrong. I don’t think he had many happy moments. He lived in la la land. And we were witness to the rather horrifying spectacle of seeing a black man carved into something resembling a white woman.

I may have seen Farah Fawcett a few times on reruns of Charlie’s Angels. During the show’s heyday, I didn’t watch TV because I was Amish. Even so, I knew who she was from reading magazines and newspapers. Along with about a hundred million other young men, I thought Farah Fawcett was a vision of perfection, probably about the most beautiful woman in the whole world.

She kind of disappeared after that show, played a few movie roles now and then. The tabloids kept us apprised of the latest gossip about her stormy relationship with Ryan O’Neil. As the years passed, I thought she aged about as gracefully as any movie star, except perhaps Katherine Hepburn, who was in a class of her own. Farah died of cancer on the same day Michael Jackson passed away. She was sixty-two years old. The news of her death was completely overshadowed by his.

And lastly, Billy Mays, the loud obnoxious hawker of all things on late night TV. I would not have wished him ill, but I will NOT miss his grating shout, “BILLY MAYS HERE…” Every time I heard even the first syllable, I dove for the remote to switch channels or hit the Mute button. I could not stand the man.

And finally, an update on Anne Marie. About a month ago, she had a regularly scheduled MRI scan. Her Lancaster doctor spoke with her a week or so later and told her he sees growth where the tumor had been. And that it likely was returning. He recommended radiation treatment immediately.

Paul called me with the news that night. It was a heavy moment. I listened, not knowing quite what to say. So I said little. That Sunday night, I stopped by as usual, and we laughed and chatted like we always do. One of my jobs, Anne Marie has proclaimed, is to bring laughter to their house. Even so, it was a somber time as we talked about what the near future might bring.

The next day, a Monday, they traveled down to Johns Hopkins with the test results. Their JH doctor reviewed them and announced quite a different diagnosis. He saw scar tissue, he said, but no new tumor growth. He did not recommend radiation or any other treatment, other than the natural treatment Anne Marie already was doing. He complimented her on her quality of life.

Paul and Anne Marie were stunned and ecstatic. Almost disbelieving of the good news. They called me that night, and we whooped and hollered. I couldn’t believe it either. Finally, something positive.

She is not out of the woods by any means, and may never be. Her JH doctor told her the tumor might return at any time, for no discernible reason, even after years and years of dormancy. They’ll take that. As they would have accepted the first diagnosis. As they’ll take and savor each day the Lord grants them together.



  1. Amen about hearing positive ;) So glad to hear about Anne Marie! Looking forward to seeing you this week

    Comment by Dorothy — July 3, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  2. Hallelujah! Thanks for the good news about our fellow church members back home.

    July 4th. On a serious note, see Patrick Henry’s immortal speech: http://www.jbs.org/jbs-news-feed/5069 Consider how it applies today.

    And for a light-hearted 3 minutes, you can watch Bugs Bunny learn Daffy Duck a thing or two about the Constitution: http://www.jbs.org/news-center/birchtube/67-Looney+Tunes+Daffy+for+president?userid=64 They should show this on the Hill.

    Comment by LeRoy — July 3, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  3. Without even knowing Paul and Anne Marie, for some reason I think of them often, especially Anne Marie. I am SO excited for them! It’s definitely been a week of ups and downs. Have fun on your next little trip – it sounds like fun! Be safe ~

    Comment by Bethrusso — July 3, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  4. I do believe, we all should do are part to conserve resources, even if it is to lower cost by limiting demand.

    I am shocked, that the only vehicles now a days that get good gas mileage, are post autos decades on decades old. The auto industry, as well as the American public, have cared so little about fuel economy.

    My family has always driven fuel-efficient forms of transportation, from my old 429 mercury car that got averaged over 25 mpg, to my first step dad’s 6.2 GM 4*4 ¾ ton Diesel at average 30, that’s when driving tanks as automobiles.

    Now we became more modest, getting a mercury lynx a dressed up ford escort getting just under 35 mpg, my own half ton full size 350 V8 truck with high-speed rear end knocked out over 25 mpg, so we getting better mileage before the first gas crunch.

    I now drive aging 1990 Chevy cavalier with 2.2 workhorse walk in fifth gear amazing 44 plus mpg, my sister has my mom Mitsubishi mirage that has gotten same 38 mpg almost on nose no matter what, and second step dad drives a aging 484 he once bought new that gets just under 35 mpg mostly because his lead foot, so were stretch mileage more so in this gas hick.

    Between all these vehicles and the many miles we rack on them, we are probably still burning less gas at pump, than “one gas hog” getting just over 10 mpg, worse than a semi hauling a full load on hilly road. I go a month between fueling up my 10-gallon tank. I have driven over 500 miles on a roundtrip, still drive around town doing my errands, before I have to resort gassing up.

    As far as light bulbs, I buy my florescent light bulbs at dollar store for $1.25 a piece, nice bulbs to kind that give pure white light like sunlight as advertised. I have my whole house switched to florescent lights, including my yard light with 800 w florescent, and I see real money savings reduction in my electric bill.

    Now as far the government throwing good money after bad, I agree fully that is a losing battle. But the government spending money to boost economy has worked before, but it is when they used that money wisely, to fund big building project which gave something of value back to people for years come in some form of infrastructures. As is now, we are still helping the rich out again, and big business is just lining their pockets with taxpayer handouts.

    I think Obama just got handed, the ex-president Bush’s blundering years times two terms, and I think Barak is over his head paddling backwards up stream without a paddle. We American people got are selves in this mess a long time ago, the baby-boomers have been living high of hog of their children’s future for ages, now it will be their children that will pay price as well as earth’s resources which are dwindling out.

    Still will two people work for minimal wages in a family, which received same hourly rate my first year working over two decades ago that I thought then was bad, while all my elderly family complain how they do not have enough money on S.S., with their house in Michigan and one in Florida driving their in their new cars wearing their new clothes and eating out almost every day.

    Comment by Lee Nelson Hall Junior — July 4, 2009 @ 2:14 am

  5. To continue Mr. Hall’s thread – I remain astounded at the wage stagnation we have experienced. In 1995 (in MN) I was hiring 14 yrs olds at $7.50 and still losing most of them to the department stores who paid $8 or more. This week I was looking at a summer job to fill in the cracks of an adjuncts wages – $8.00 an hour … wow.

    Maybe my expectations are skewed. Recently after the death of a great-aunt (Lydia Beiler, Narvon) the family had sale of her things. My mom purchased on of her diaries. To me Aunt Liddy was a woman who had the world by the tail, her “ladies from CA” or her “ladies from Bryn Mawr” would come around often an they went off for some great adventure. I was humbled to find pages and pages of diary entries that read “Dad done bottles, quilted” – so all that to say maybe my expectation of wages, money and a fabulous life are skewed, a bit.

    (My great grandfather Amos Beiler, put alphabet soup and wood into glass bottle with great effect)

    Comment by Glo — July 4, 2009 @ 9:46 am

  6. I love your writings this week! You are right on Obama’s shameless attitude towards our country is heartwrenching as he sets into destroy it! He’s never seen a spending bill he doesn’t love. As some people have said Obama wants to be the messiah , but the longer he’s in there the more Bush JR looks like a messiah and isn’t that sad. Obama is the most radical president in our history , I want my suv and pickups, no trashy foriegn cars for me! The elitist that push the global warmng hoax drive limos and fly in private jets to go to NY city for an evening date( the obamas)! Keep on exposing obama for who he is, a radical , he couldn’t bring himself to condemn the dictators in Iran , but he wasted no time at all when democracy loving people in Honduras ousted a dictator ! Obama condemned the Honduran government for ousting their dictatorial leader , who’s closest allies were Chavez and Castro , so Obama took those two dictators side ! Isn’t that a scary development? But nothing that obama does surprises me because we all know how radical he was , his mentors etc!

    Comment by Matt — July 4, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  7. Most of our political and business leaders should “not” be used as an example model of how to act in any regards or fashion, as fast cash and loss moralities have been driving the cog works of our self-exorbitant society. Individual like you all there and me as single person, have the greatest influences by our individual choices, which add up billions people making trillions of heavy-duty decisions that greatly impact the whole earth.

    So lets say if every one drives a gas-guzzler which gets an averages 10 mpg, or every one choices to dive a auto like mine that gets on its worst day 40mpg, what that really add up to. There are probably more than 305 million souls in the USA alone, I would guess if to find the mean average driven per person be over 500 miles per month, between to mpg of high and low mileage consumers will use 11,437,500,000 billion extra gallons per month driving less efficient vehicle.

    Mr. And Mrs. Consumer makes up the meat and potatoes of our world resource problems, the numbers are so staggering how much wasted material that is not needed gets used up and discarded, that to say we can just continue being mass quantity shoppers with no repercussion flies in face of the reality that is crashing in around us. So am I upset that small percentage of elite anarchy spits in the American face of the American public, by living life as if there is no tomorrow by burning up supplies as if they had no value, oh yes.

    But when you look at the bigger picture of what ‘we all” are doing to our selves, using the biggest super tanker in the ocean to carry every month, the oil from countries we like to cut ties with, just so we can drive that big oversized gas-guzzler vehicle and pollute air with more choking toxic fumes that really not needed as luxury. We are just consuming to much everything, as our numbers grow by millions and billions and hunger consumer products accelerate, are earth truly is headed to breaking point and financial burden has just begun.

    Comment by Lee Nelson Hall Junior — July 4, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  8. I say your best articles are on current events…
    I rather like the combined newspaper as I didn’t have time for both but liked my paper in the morn, so now finally an amazing” half conservative paper”instead of an all liberal one.

    Comment by wilmawagler — July 4, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  9. There is another side of God…

    Do folks really think that a person can live their life as they want…and then at the end He is going to accept them just because they say a few words…??

    Prov 1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
    25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
    26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
    27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
    Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
    29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:
    30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
    31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

    Comment by fritz — July 4, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  10. Good blog Ira! Keep it up. Now a few words to Lee Nelson. I don’t know you at all, but eventually you, Obama, and all his supporters will need to accept responsibility for your own decisions. One of the things I really liked about Bush was that he never complained about all the problems the Clintons left for him to get back on track. If the Liberals would support drilling at home we’d have oil enough for decades. So yeah, I’m sick and tired of the same old lines about gas hogs and SUVs. After driving horse and buggy for my first thirty years, I figure I’m well justified with my fleet of pickups, SUVs and ATVs.

    Comment by Rudy Yutzy — July 7, 2009 @ 9:07 am

  11. Rudy Yutzy you made this assertion,“ You, Obama, and all his supporters will need to accept responsibility for your own decisions“, so what decisions are you referring to?

    You go on by stating,“one things I really liked about Bush was that he never complained about all the problems the Clintons left for him to get back on track, I do not think Clinton started a all out war cost many lives of our soldiers or plunged the economy into a recession. Praise Bush for all that economical turmoil were in now, and when did bush get us back on track, track to inflated prices, stock markets crashing, people losing their house, losses of jobs, all before Obama took office. It is going to take many presidents and many presidential terms to dig us out whole, if Obama keep it from getting worse, he done a good job by at least holding off total calamity.

    You also comment, „If the Liberals would support drilling at home we’d have oil enough for decades“. I love how people make these over generalized statement with out any proof of fact. I heard those political satire sediments, said during the election campaign, and news dismissed it as false hood political play with out no validity. You can not go anywhere in the USA with out seeing a well pumping, I walked across this county and there is no place not scattered with oil wells, so where are you say we are not drilling that mass amounts of oil reserves. I take it your referring to Alaska’s wildlife refugees, which it take decades to safely exploit with out harming the delicate environment, even then the amount oil drawn out would be trickle to what we use daily.

    Unless you think there is world conspiracy, on information available to all at the touch of mouse click, then you got except the compiled data saying we are running out oil.


    Then you state,“So yeah, I’m sick and tired of the same old lines about gas hogs and SUVs. After driving horse and buggy for my first thirty years, I figure I’m well justified with my fleet of pickups, SUVs and ATVs“. Do Amish live in a gasoline vacuum, they use gasoline like everyone else, maybe more. Lets figure up all gasoline Amish do not use, they hire drivers to drive them in gasoline vehicles, they light lanterns with kerosene, they have gasoline powered equipment, and they move their their belongings when move with diesel semi trucks. Now almost all my equipment is powered by electricity from coal plant, my house heated from natural gas that does not come from crude oil which have plenty of, and car takes less than 10 gallons a month.

    That does not mean that total petrol use, both English out side world and plain people buy products that derived from plastic in one way our another, from products produced from crude oil, from products shipped by petrol, to products manufactured by use consumption of fossil fuels.

    Comment by Lee Nelson Hall Junior — July 8, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

  12. Obama a radical? You must be dreaming. King Obama is just continuing the plunder policies of Despot Bush. Same old, same old. Between the two of them, I don’t know who’ll be remembered worse.

    Get ready for another bubble bursting soon. The bubble of credit card debt, adding to it the bubble of commercial mortgages just for fun.

    The good news is, the foreigners have not figured out yet how to do without the dollar, and keep propping it up… Living the Amish way is looking better and better these days.

    Comment by Vera — July 12, 2009 @ 1:42 am

  13. Mr. Hall, I’d like to buy gas from the station that you do. Must be some pretty sweet stuff. 350 V-8 getting 25 mpg. B.S.

    Comment by Dan — July 14, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

  14. Lets take my old past 350 V8 light half-ton Chevy truck for instance. Remember in the old days, you could order vehicles’ every aspect, not only choices of several types of motors, but down to the pinion gear installed. Now I bought that light half-ton used, I was told it was bought new, as special package deal with 10:1 compression V8, high performance torque converter, and high speed pinion gear rear end.

    Most of the time it is not the motor, making a vehicle a gas-guzzler, it is power train delivers power to road and determines the rpm range the motor must maintain to do so. There are other factors as well, not discounting any of them, from way motor is set up, to the weight of the vehicle, and to the way you drive that vehicle. But still it mostly comes down to gearing, loading down the engine at low rpm, and keeping the rpms low as possible.

    Every one knows, an over drive helps get more mileage per gallon, no matter what vehicle you drive. Well care manufactures set up automatic transmissions and gearing, in profile for maximum load style you would ever haul, so the engine is generally over revving for work demanded nearly ever time, and consuming gas to maintain excess turns of the engine. When you order a towing package, they only end up gear it down even more, than switching out transmissions with a heavy-duty transmission. When you hear that high revving sound, when you are starting out and between gears changes, that is is the sweat sound of wasted gas out of your tail pipe.

    With a manual sick transmission, which no one hardly drives any more, one can lug down the engine, till one gets up to speed and slip it in over drive. Automatics transmissions even of the same type, depending on the profile settings, can shift at far different rpm ranges. So you can take same vehicle of same type, by making few modifications no one can physically see, and get substantially higher gas mileage. Ad in a less aggressive driver, lighter oil in crankcase say 5-20 like I run, and tune and clean your engine, and watch your gas mileage go way up.

    People brag about what they drive, but know nothing about their big pricy vehicle, except it is a big V8 or it is a 4*4. There is a lot more to it, and most people leave the care of their auto, completely up to a overly expensive garage mechanic. I have a good mechanic, but I still check and do general maintenance, and it is me that notice a problem before it becomes a problem. Most people do not know the viscosity of their oil, or pressure in their tires, let lone anything else.

    Comment by Lee Nelson Hall Junior — July 15, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

  15. I came across your blog a few days ago and I have enjoyed reading here. I will be back to read more.

    Have a great day!

    Comment by Jamey — July 16, 2009 @ 6:14 am

  16. Too much politics. But I did like the piece about Michael Jackson. I was 17 or 18 when the “Thriller” video made its debut. But let us go even further back when The Jackson 5 were all the rage. My little girlfriend bought the album we’d play it on her mother’s stereo. We’d dance and sing our little hearts out.
    You’re right though, something happened as he continued in his fame. When I’d heard he was going to leave his fortune to his pet chimp I knew something was up. This was pre-children. He was good, though. An excellent entertainer.
    Speaking of TV stars in the 70’s, my sister always had large posters of Parker Stevenson, Sean Cassidy, and John Travolta plastered on the walls of our bedroom. She’d get mad at me when I’d practice kissing techniques on them. I don’t begrudge her, who wants a poster of a hottie with wrinkled lips? I probably did it more to annoy her than anything else. At least I would like to think so.
    I don’t think I like this business of getting old so quickly. Teenagers see me as a mother figure. My ears perk up when people start complaining about ailments. I’m actually interested. I’ve reconsidered taking my kids ice skating worried I may fall and break something. I’m not ready for this yet!

    Comment by Francine — February 25, 2014 @ 2:06 am

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