Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Here's what I think--an essay

I think reading quotations from great thinkers is part of an ongoing education. And I think the quotes of Thomas Jefferson are among the best. When I read these quotes attributed to him:

--Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be the that of everry free state.

--That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves.

--The principle of spending money to be paid by future generations, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

--Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

--I predict future hapiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

--To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

--I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.

--The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

I wonder what he thinks when the Democrats honor him as their party’s founder at annual dinners.

I think freedom has as much to fear from our government as from foreign oppressors like Nazi, Communists and Islamists. And I think both Republicans and Democrats are threats to freedom, though in different areas, as they seek to appease supporters who want to tell others not to do something they want to do. I think regardless of which party is in power, the struggle to preserve freedom from both the encroachments of our government and from foreign enemies is never-ending.

I think if Global Warming was really a crisis, then Al Gore would lower his carbon footprint to, say, only five times mine—and still use his wealth from his books and videos to buy carbon offsets.

I think Navy ship’s captains should have the authority and duty to try and execute pirates at sea. I think promotion boards and medal awards review board should have quotas of executed pirates to consider.

I think you could cut the deficit by offering old vets like me the opportunity to serve on the firing squads, if we paid $2,000 per pirate and our own expenses. But that wouldn’t be fair to the eager young warriors serving today.

I think if profiling terrorists was really wrong, the Department of Homeland Security wouldn’t be profiling veterans who served the country as potential terrorists, instead of members of groups who have attacked America repeatedly over the past 30 years.

I think there are tens of millions of peaceful Muslims, who are good, decent people. I also think they are intimidated and irrelevant as long as there are millions of their fellow Muslims who are willing to support murder to impose Islam and Shari’a Law on the world, just as the millions of peaceful Germans, Italians and Japanese were intimidated and irrelevant to the world in 1939.

I think it was a bow. President Obama so wants to be loved by those world leaders who hate America, that he will abase himself for their approval.

I think while the President was apologizing to the French for America, he should have apologized to them for the mess we made landing in Normandy in June of 1944, and for driving out their new friends the Germans. And perhaps for not paying rent on the land we buried our arrogant dead in.

I think there are a lot of working-class Americans who love their country, who voted for President Obama because of the economy, and who think America has nothing to apologize to Europe for, on the whole. But they may be starting to think they have something to apologize for to the rest of us.

I think people were a lot politer when gentlemen wore swords.

I think the media was desperate to make out the Tax Protest Tea Parties as small, irrelevant and composed only of right-wing extremists. I think there’s a reason those hundreds of demonstrations got far less coverage than the “million man march” of a few years ago. And I think the contrast between those overwhelmingly peaceful protests and the nihilism, destruction and violence of the “anti-globalization” protests tells you all you need to know about who the good guys are.

I think people may be getting tired of being told not only what happened, but what to think about it. I think we may see an emerging market for unbiased media outlets. I faithfully read a news magazine called The Week. It tells you what happened, and what both sides said about it. Neither I, nor some liberal friends I know who read it, have been able to detect an agenda, right or left. It’s a smart business plan, and they are growing in circulation. The loony left & rabid right will still want to be fed opinions that don’t create any cognitive dissonance, but I’m hopeful publications like The Week will succeed and grow.

I think there’s a philosophical reason the Congressional Black Caucus sees no tyranny in Cuba, and the President sees Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez as fellow leaders he can work amiability with.

I think it’s cool the Obama’s have a cute dog and that a black girl does her homework at the desk Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation on. I thought it was cool that George Bush rode horses and cleared brush with his own hands. And I think all this is irrelevant to real issues and the fact that the news media gives it such play is the rampant ADD and lack of ability to understand complex issues in both the media and the public.

I don’t think President Obama is a Muslim. I think like many of the elite, and on both sides, religion is a political convenience for him. I think he joined that black liberation theology church in Chicago when he needed their support, and discarded them when they became a liability. Thus I think we shouldn’t focus on his Islamic middle name, drop the “H” and stop referring to him as BHO, like JFK, For short, I think just BO is better.

I think the people trying to prove the President was not born in the US are wasting their time. You could prove beyond doubt he was born on Mars and it wouldn’t matter. The courts would find a way to rule he qualified as a citizen, and aren’t going to overturn an election, especially when doing so would mean millions in damages and thousands of deaths from riots in the inner cities. That issue was dead on Election Day, probably when he got the nomination.

I think modern poetry isn’t poetic, modern music isn’t musical and modern art isn’t artistic. And I don’t think taxpayers should have to pay for it because some elites like it.

Call me a romantic, but I think the kilt is the greatest garment ever invented for ventilation, urination or fornication.

I think eating at an old fashioned diner or family-owned café usually beats a meal in a chain eatery or high-priced fancy restaurant favored by the elites.

I think it’s funny that it’s become politically incorrect to question the patriotism or honor of people who you know never use the words “patriot” or honor” to describe themselves, unless they are running for office.

I think the Dixie Chicks are great at what I pay them to do—sing and look cute. I can’t understand why people were upset with them. If you want cute singers, they qualify. If you want solid political or economic opinions, of course, you ignore entertainers and journalists and go to someone with a PhD in the subject like Condi Rice or Thomas Sowell.

I think everyone in the world is smarter than me about something, usually many things.

I think race or ethnic heritage doesn’t matter, but culture matters a great deal. And I think liberals saying all cultures are equally valid is like saying all political parties are equally valid—no difference between Democrats and Republicans and Communists and Nazis and Islamists in values.

I think that not requiring Hispanic citizens to learn English discriminates against them, because the evidence is that Hispanics who speak English have higher incomes and a better life style. You’d almost think the multicultural agenda of the left was to ensure they stayed in poverty and dependent on government.

I think hill country often produces freedom loving, independent people.

I think feminists who said that women don’t lie about rape were awfully quiet when a woman accused Bill Clinton of raping her. And they are still pretty quiet about genital mutilation, honor killings, forced marriage of girl children, the burning of girls’ schools and the second class status of women under Shari’a law in the Islamic world (and among Islamic populations in the civilized world). I think that silence proves that political correctness and multiculturalism is more important to them than gender equality.

I think many gender differences are cultural, but that the physical ones are pretty important. And I like them. A lot.

I think haggis is the food of the gods. Too bad about the cholesterol. Maybe that’s why the old gods aren’t around anymore?

I think it’s not surprising that research shows conservatives give more to charity than liberals. I think most liberals are liberal only with other people’s money.

I think having a beer with a Marine who served on Iwo, Tarawa, Peleliu, the Canal or at the Chosin Reservoir beats an invitation to dine at the White House, regardless of who is president.

I think it was a privilege to wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps. I don’t think the country owes me anything, I think we all owe a debt to the country.

I think the people who falsely claim to be veterans, or POWs or to hold medals they were not awarded are sick scum, beneath contempt. And my highest personal decoration is a richly-undeserved Good Conduct Medal.

In 2000, I supported John McCain and thought George Bush would be a disaster for the Republican Party. Now I think Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid may rehabilitate Bush’s image.

I think anyone who couldn’t see 9/11 coming wasn’t paying attention. In August of 1998, I published a column, “America’s War on Terror will be long, slow and cruel” which said “terrorists now have the ability to destroy large buildings.” Duh, Washington.

I think it’s better to be armed against the wolves of the world, than to try to reason with them. Sweet reason didn’t do much to restrain Hitler and Tojo. But the starry-eyed never tire of trying. Then folks in uniform and their families have to pay the price.

I think our political system is broken, with the leaders of both parties judging everything by how it will affect their chances in the next election. I think it can’t be fixed by people who calculate their own political futures first in the bargain.

I think if marriage was really a two-way street, my wife would leave the toilet seat up for me sometimes. (Yes, I stole that line from the comics this week, because I thought it was funny. Don’t bother to write.)

I think those who denigrate veterans do so because inside, they know they weren’t good enough to serve.

I think my liberal brother Tom and I should start a Washington Consulting Firm. Politicians of either party could come to us and tell us what they planned to do. We’d talk it over. If we said, “Go for it,” they would owe nothing. If we said, “Don’t do it, it’s dumb,” they’d dump a wheelbarrow of money on us, and depart. We’d be rich, and worth every penny.

I think if George Bush had made a snide remark about the Special Olympics on Leno, the media would never have done another story about him without mentioning it.

I think the mess in Washington is the fault of the voters who are ignorant of history, ignorant of basic economics and ignorant of civics, and I think today’s schools are neglecting voter education. The vast majority of voters aren’t paying much attention, as proven by polls showing that Congress had a 12% approval rating, but that 67% of voters last November couldn’t say which party controlled Congress.

I think if a decent person had been armed with a gun at Columbine and other mass shootings, lives would have been saved. I think if confronted by thugs on the street, I’d rather have a 45 auto than a cell phone to call 911.

I think the best teacher I had was Ben Mark, my economics teacher in high school, because he challenged me, though a lot of kids hated him. It was my only A course when I was getting Ds in others. My, the arguments we had.

I think both parties and all countries are trying to make political hay blaming the economic crisis on others. As a Republican, I tend to point to the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac—and the documented efforts of Bush, McCain and others to regulate them better. Democrats point to feckless bankers who piled on in risky leveraged investments of subprime mortgage interments. It was going on in every modern country—are Republicans or Democrats in the US responsible for Iceland and Ireland’s bankers crawling even further out on that limb? And I think the economic ignorance of voters means politicians can win points by doing things that will make things worse, as Hoover did in 1930 when he signed Smoot-Hawley.

I think Hemingway had it right when he said, “I would rather have a good Marine, even a ruined one, than anything in the world when there are chips down.” (Or so he has been quoted—I’m not a Hemingway scholar.)

I think there is a zero recidivism rate among people who have been executed.

I think folks who worry that gays getting married will hurt the institution of marriage must have pretty weak marriages themselves. I think the trend of many straight folks having children outside of marriage is a much larger threat to our future.

I think that nothing discriminates against black people like black men fathering and abandoning children, as it guarantees poverty for future generations of black people. And not toughly enforcing laws against black and Hispanic gangbangers, out of fears of charges of discrimination, guarantees lots of dead black and Hispanic kids. They are being murdered almost every day in Chicago—and not by white racists.

I think if Dan Quayle misspelling “potato” when reading from a card the school gave him proves he’s dumb, then Barack Obama saying he’d campaigned in 57 states, with one to go, proves the same thing about him, and should be mentioned as often in stories about BO as the “potato” thing is about Quayle.

I think Mark Twain was right, that golf is “a good walk spoiled.”

I think teachers unions are more interested in protecting teachers’ jobs than educating kids. (And my dad was a teacher all his life. I was certified to teach and hold a masters of education degree.). In fact I think unions in general were a necessity to move us into the modern world, but now they are willing to destroy companies and our economy to protect the jobs of the least productive and least valuable employees—including, of course, the union bosses.

I would think the decline of children’s education in history and civics, and the decline of a lot of other things as well, was a sinister plot, if I didn’t believe in Hanlon's razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence."

I think if it happens, bringing the 2016 Olympics to Mayor Daley’s Chicago will produce the biggest corruption scandal in Olympic history. They won’t be able to restrain themselves over that pot of gold. This may, in an odd way, be a good thing for Illinois, creating the final straw. I think they will ensure there is at least one Republican hand in the cookie jar, to spread the blame around.

I think that no group, party, religion, ethnicity or gender has a corner on vice or virtue. Those that suggest so are trying to build up their own group at the expense of the other group. The best thing I learned in the senate was that there were good, intelligent, honest, caring people who were Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, young and old, male and female, rural and urban, and of all religions and colors. And there were corrupt or stupid people in all those categories as well. Some liberals assume that because I have a different world view, and don’t see things their way, I am either evil or stupid or both. Some conservatives think the same way about liberals.

I think that no one is right all the time, and no one is consistent in his/her views or actions all the time. Welcome to the human race, with our endless capacity for self-justification. Say, isn’t that a mote in your eye?

T.S. Eliot isn’t my favorite poet, but I think he had it exactly right when he said, “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

I think if they meant it when they say you should keep a balance between work and personal life, weekends would be three and a half days long.

I think that perfection is impossible, and can’t even be defined, but that constant improvement is possible for any individual or organization. I think that everyone should strive for it.

I think if you can learn something valuable from everyone, and something important every day.

I think a lot of people are getting rich and famous tearing down the country and society they are living in, which allows them to have such comfortable lives. George Soros, Michael Moore and some Democrat politicians come to mind.

On the other hand, I think Republicans like Mitt Romney who say they wished they had served in the military are phonies, unless they can show they were rejected when they tried to enlist..

I think people who talk on cell phones or send text messages while driving are the moral equivalent of drunk drivers.

I think those who protested the draft during the Vietnam War by going to prison were brave. I think those who went to Canada were cowards.

I think Canada did us a favor by taking in the Vietnam War fugitives, and sending thousands of her best men to serve, many to die, in our military, including one who earned the Medal of Honor.

I think that everyone in public office, Republicans and Democrats, knows things that are true, which they dare not say for fear of offending the yahoos among their supporters. I think you can’t get elected to public office from either party without saying things you know are hogwash (yeah, that was also true back when I was elected to the Massachusetts state senate five times), and that the better public servants are those who try to limit the amount of hogwash they spew, as opposed to those who let it flow. And I think the need for hogwash to get elected is a direct result of needing the votes of so many ignorant and self-centered voters.

I think autumn in the nicest time of year, except that it’s so short and winter is so long.

I think that the great economist and writer Dr. Thomas Sowell is one of the brightest ten people in the country, and that one should be required to read and pass a test on his book Basis Economics to earn a college degree or hold public office. Maybe even to vote.

I think that it would be a pretty weak and sorry God who needed my help in convincing others how to worship. And the idea that God or Allah needs you to force people to worship the right way is the greatest insult you could give to the Almighty.

I thought nothing could top Karaoke for annoying inventions. Then they came up with text messaging and Twitter.

I think—or maybe I hope—the Kindle will never replace books. Who knows. My father-in-law collects 8-track tapes. If they come back, we’re golden.

I think I may have become the curmudgeon I always wanted to be.

I think Tony Rezko must be bitter languishing in prison while Barack Obama revels in the White House. Maybe bitter enough to talk? That would be fun. But I bet he still hopes to be taken care of down the road.

I think The Notebooks of Lazarus Long are all the philosophy you need, and that Heinlein had it right when he said, “Little girls and butterflies need no excuse.”

I think women with tattoos, breast implants and face piercings have made themselves uglier, in direct proportion to the size and number of the tattoos, implants and piercings. (Yeah, I know that two is the usual number for implants. Let’s not go there—God knows what the next fad might be.)

I think that paparazzi chasing celebrities are providing brain food for idiots. If you care about the private lives of Hollywood stars, sports entertainers and famous-for-being-famous folks like Ms. Hilton, you have a really shallow intellectual life.

I think that, at 63, I’m past the danger of taking up flying, sky-diving, mountain climbing, motorcycles, skiing and other things I’m sure are fun. But I still think a sports car would be neat, if I could figure out where to stash the granddaughter.

I think that, though I’m a history buff, I’m not likely to get into re-enacting history. I looked around my basement and didn’t notice a spare life.

I think if someone came up with a surefire way to lift minorities out of poverty to middle class status, the Democrats would stop at nothing to kill it. Wait, someone did: quality education. And, sure enough, the Democrats just killed vouchers in DC. Can’t let something like better educated black kids get a foothold.

I think smoking cigarettes is dumb, but I hope lots of people do it, so their taxes, not mine, pay for universal health care. And if they die off, it reduces their carbon footprint and the unfunded liability we living taxpayers have for their Social Security and Medicare.

Now I think I’ll have a whisky.


  1. I think if you were two years older you would be the long lost twin brother I never knew I had. Of course being one of 11 kids who would have noticed one more or less? I appreciate your thoughts and ideas and agree with almost all of them (not the one about golf, even though I am not good at it you can feel great if you make one really good shot out of 100, sort of like our politicians).
    After having lived in Texas twice now, once for 13 years and now for 9 more, I am convinced that our system needs to be adopted by the Feds. We only allow the leaders of the State to meet for 140 days in odd numbered years. After that they have to go home and live with the rules they made. They also have to work for a living. New Mexico is even better. They meet for 60 days in odd numbered years and 30 days in even numbered years. It certainly helps control the amount of damage they can do.
    Just to prove they are really working heard the Texas group have introduced 7000 bills this year. Can you imagine how many things they can screw up if even a small portion of those bills get passed?
    To add to your litany:
    I think that anyone who believes a politician is concerned about their welfare gets what they deserve.
    I think that at 65 I have seen the best and the worst of Presidents in my lifetime (You fill in the blanks)
    I think it was an ill advised bow and a more ill advised hand shake.
    I think your granddaughter could ride sideways in the "rear seat" and you should go for the sports car.

    Keep it up, I love your work.

  2. I've had some of these thoughts myself, Bob. However, I would have thought you would have ended by having a Scotch?

    Best, Henry

  3. Can't really agree about men being more polite when they wore swords. Books on the history of the sword indicate that in Europe, the better-skilled would pick fights with the unskilled, and in Japan, Samurai had the legal right to cut down commoners on the flimsiest of pretexts.

  4. Who was it that said "An armed society is a polite society".

    Semper Fi.

  5. Interesting reading! Agree on almost all. Was beginning to feel alone as a far right radical ready to be put on the "LIST". Keep up the good work.

  6. Its glad to see I'm not alone. Being a veteran I can't tell you how upset it made me that the very people who are willing to give up their life's blood to protect and defend our way of life were being labeled as potential terrorists.

  7. Very interesting, indeed. I also agree on nearly every point - but this was one of my favorites:

    "I think I may have become the curmudgeon I always wanted to be."

    I'm about to turn 54, but I think I'm catching up with you in the curmudgeon department.

    Thanks for your service, by the way. I did six years in the Navy, and the smartest individual I have ever met was a Gunny who was guarding a group of Navy CTs. I never met a Marine that I wasn't proud to be seen with.