Monday, November 29, 2004

Peggy Noonan

Reading this week's column, I find myself wishing that Peggy Noonan were my neighbor. I am reading her book "A heart, a cross and a flag" right now. It is a series of her weekly columns from the year after 9/11. What a great book, I am giving it to my son to read after I finish. We will have a great time talking about each chapter.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The average guy.

Who is this mythical person? There is a lot of buzz surrounding the average guy. I hear about his television viewing habits, how many pounds of red meat he eats in a given year, and for whom he voted in the last election. There seems to be no end to the amount of data gathered from this person. But lost in all the data gathered and examined is his character. What kind of man is he? Is he honest? Is he kind? Does he cheat on wife? I wonder who I am sharing this country, and the highway with. One can only answer the question by looking at who you see in your everyday life.

Living in Yolo County California, I will concede that my viewpoint may be a bit skewed, but this is my view of my common man: He is not very concerned with the world outside of his workplace, his house or his children's school. This is not a criticism of him, he thinks that he controls very little of his life.

He works hard everyday. On Monday morning, when most sales reps and office dwellers are nibbling whole-grain muffins and sipping their venti mocas listening to the sales manager or department head groan on about what needs to get done this week, the average guy has been at work for three hours and is looking forward to lunchtime. He is concerned that just one more screw-up and he will be fired. He is powerless to change the day to day events at his company, so he goes along with the tide trying not to be noticed. He has learned that a nail sticking up gets pounded down.

When he is at home he tries to relax. This sometimes means not playing with his children, just blanking out in front of the television for an hour or two. He is paying more interest than he should on his credit cards, his home mortgage and his car loan. It's not that he wants to pay more, he just gets lost in all the lingo of personal finance and thinks that the person on the other side of the desk is going to screw him anyway. He does not save enough. When he gets to the end of the month, there is not much ‘extra money” laying around.

He loves his wife, although they don't have many conversations about how they are doing in their lives. They are doing alright, just as good as their neighbors anyway. They don’t go out on dates anymore, they both have to work. When they do get time away from the kids, they feel exhausted. He has not cheated on his wife, sure he has thought about it, but he know his wife would take everything and leave him. He is satisfied with a little flirting at the bar or at the store. He just wants to know he still has it. His kids are pretty good kids, they don't get picked up by the police and they are still in school. He would like to know more about what they think and how they make their decisions, but they don't talk much anymore. They ask for money to go out on the weekend, but they haven't sat down at the dinner table and spoke about life for a long time.

He doesn't care about politics. Once every four years he may go to his local polling place if he really likes a certain candidate or really hates one. He does not watch cable news on a regular basis. When he does, he sees two people on the show and they each tell a story that is opposite from the other. He thinks that these two guys went to the best colleges and they can't agree on what to do, so how should I know? He wonders why the host of the program doesn't tell one of them they are full of beans and tell the viewer why they are wrong.

He doesn't care about the Supreme Court as long as they don't take the pledge of allegiance out of the schools. He couldn't tell you what congressional district he lives in, although he may know the name of his representative, maybe. He has never met his local congressman or woman because they have never come to the small town he lives in. He wonders if his elected officials know anything about his daily life? He would like to ask them where does all his tax money go? He sees the City, County, and State employees driving new cars and trucks while he drives his 6 year old truck with 160,000 miles . When he goes to the city he sees the new three story City office building and he wonders what that must have cost?

He drinks beer during the week and something a little stronger on the weekends. He knows he should quit or at least slow down to just the weekends. But wherever he goes, someone is offering him a beer, or a Jack and Coke. Everyone he knows drinks, his friends and his family. This must be normal, everybody does it.

He is on the whole an honest man. He tells the cashier at the store when she gives him to much change back. He pays his taxes, but if he could find a way to pay less with a slim chance of getting caught, he probably would. It is his money after all.

So what can I say about the average guy in my world?

He is a good guy. He could be so much more, but then again, couldn't we all?

Monday, November 22, 2004

How thankful are you?

As Thanksgiving approaches, newspapers and blogs are filled with stories written by people telling about what they are thankful for. Many columns are written with wonderful style and prose, with good reason, this is the time of year to reflect on the blessings we hold dearest. My blog for Thanksgiving will touch on this theme also, maybe from a slightly different point of view. Are we thankful enough?

I can only speak on this subject from my own perspective. I could write about what you should be thankful for, however to do this I would have to burden you with my values. You may not, and probably do not, share my values.

Am I thankful enough for the blessings in my life? Not by a long shot. My life, as cluttered as it is with all the trappings of this modern life, is one that 95% of the people that inhabit this globe would trade for in a minute. I am reasonably healthy, the only health problems I currently have or am likely to have are of my own doing. I am never in want for food or clean water. I have a home that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I live in an area of the planet that is free from war. I can walk down my street, and with the possible exception of getting hit by a bingo player on the way to the casino, I am perfectly safe.
I am married to a wonderful woman. She, like me, has her faults and areas to improve upon. Taken as a package, she is a better wife than I deserve or should expect. I have two great children. My son is 11 years old. He has a very kind soul. He will someday be much larger than I am. Six foot three or four, as the doctor has told us. My daughter is now four, she is a bundle of energy, and cute as can be. She will give me my heart attack, of this I am sure. Our two children are great kids, all though there are challenges and disappointments along the way, they have made me grow as a person and a father. I love them dearly.
So how do I show thanks for all the blessing in my life? I Complain.
Do I tell my wife that I love her everyday? No. Do I tell her how much she means to me, and that I would be miserable without her? Not as often as I should. I spend my life thinking about the things she does that I don't like. What about my children? No matter how wonderful my son is, I want him to be perfect. I know that if he tried as hard as I would like him to, he could be a better person. I want the Bs to be As, I want him to keep his room spotless. When I stand back from myself, I ask why I don't demand more from myself? Why am I so hard on my son when I should be doing much better running my own life? As for my daughter, she falls under my wife's care more than mine. My wife takes her to school and picks her up. My daughter would much rather spend the day with my wife than me. I love her, but she is Mommy's girl.

I don't think of myself as a bad parent, and if you asked the people that know me, they would say that I do a pretty good job. What I need is change of perspective. I need to stop concentrating on the negative, and start looking at the positive. I am trying to change these habits, how ever hard they are to break.

Monday, November 15, 2004

November, pheasants, coffee and good friends.

November is special, no other month brings back more memories for me. I love the crisp fall air, the first morning I step out my frontdoor and see my breath brings a little smile. My wife loves the warm weather of summer. If she could find a place that never gets below 75 degrees, she would move there. While I enjoy the warm summer nights on the deck with the barbecue going, there is nothing better in my mind than putting on a wool shirt and loading up my Labrador for the opening day of pheasant season.

The smell of gun oil on my Browning gives me a satisfaction that is hard to put into words. I search around the shop for my hunting vest, looking through the pockets to see what type of shells are there.

If they are low-base 8s, I remember last year's quail hunt down by Cache Creek. The excitement of a bursting covey as they scatter to new cover. The nod of the head given when you make a nice double. Those 8s may be from a late season dove hunt on a ranch that belongs to my friend's grandfather. I'm taken back to the kitchen table at the ranch, talking to my friends grandfather about life, cattle or his service in the Navy before and during and after WWII. My friend and I talk to both his grandparents for an hour or two over coffee, not because they let us hunt there, because they are good people and good company.

If I pull out a handful of high-base 6s, those must be from last year's pheasant season. My lab is has completed his metamorphosis from a bird dog to a gopher dog. The blame is mine. In my youth I hunted with my first lab, a yellow lab that I named Buddy. During my college years I spent many more days in the field than I do now. Buddy and I would hunt the ditches and barley fields around the County. Most days were unsuccessful if you base success on how many birds were taken on that particular day. When they are judged as they should be, on the pleasure that comes from being in the field with a good dog, those days are priceless. I take no credit for the hunting ability of Buddy, he was great dog and we spent a lot of time together, time hunting. I do take all the blame for Jake, my current black lab, for being the out of shape, gopher killer that he is. When I came home today I found the garbage can knocked down, and the trash scattered all around. Jake the gopher killer strikes again.

November also brings the first of the holidays to us. Some people will say that Halloween starts the holiday season, I do not. I have never had family come from out of town to go trick-or-treating. Thanksgiving is possibly my favorite holiday. The Dallas Cowboys play in the afternoon, and the game is over just about the time the turkey is ready. The adults (myself included) sit in the kitchen and drink a fresh cup of coffee while the children play in the frontroom. We talk about politics and the plans for the ranch. We talk about the people we miss, those that could not make the trip from out of state this year.

For me, November is like the smooth surface of a lake. When you look at the surface you see your reflection, and your surroundings. But if you get a bit closer and look from a different angle, you look through the water's surface to what lies beneath.

Torch the barn and kill the rats.

Notice has been given to the high ranking bureaucrats in the State department. The Clinton administration's good old boy network is getting the message, your time is up. Your failure in North Korea and around the world has been noted. You may now take positions as professors at Harvard and Berkeley, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Pink slips will be hot off the laser printer for the Clinton Era clones at the CIA. Have a nice life at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, your paper's slamming the Bush foreign policy will be more than welcomed. Say Hello to Richard Clarke.

Fox reports that Condoleezza Rice will take the reins at State. Her second in command, Stephen Hadley will take over as the National Security Advisor. While I do like Colin Powell, he and Donald Rumsfeld did not see the world through the same lens.

More to come.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Arafat is dead, drinks are on me.

Can we stop with the 'news coverage' of Yasser Arafat's death now, please. Do we have to see the coffin of this terrorist paraded around on a French military jet on his farewell tour? Where is the news story? There is life and death battle going on in the streets of Fallujah, where our Marines and Army forces are cleaning out the terrorists. Let's focus on that, I would rather see the MSM slanted story on the slaughter of innocents than watch a millionaire terrorist's corpse fawned over. The Sacramento Bee front page today has two stories on Arafat's dirt nap. Maybe they forgot today's date. November 11th, Veteran's Day. A story honoring veterans is on page A9.
Even the Daily Democrat, the local woodland paper, pays homage to our veterans on it's front page.

I don't want to sound cold hearted about Arafat's death, but we may finally have a chance at peace in the Middle East. A slim one at best, but a chance none the less.

My thanks to America's veterans, no matter what your service. From a Ranger on D-Day to a supply clerk in Oklahoma in Dessert Storm. Thank you for your service.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

No Global Test for the next congress.

The Main Stream Media has had a chance to digest the President's victory for the past week. What have they concluded? If the President does not cave into the Democratic minority's list of demands, he has lost his mandate and has failed to bring the nation together. As we like to say here in Yolo County, can they smell what they are shoveling?
The President has a wonderful opportunity to bring the nation together, not by implementing the policies of the loosing party's platform, but by reaching out to conservative and moderate democrats. With a 'coalition of willing' in the Senate and the House, the President can accomplish the job the majority of Americans want to have done. The MSM and the Democratic leadership want to make the President pass a version of John Kerry's 'Global Test' before they will come together to pass legislation and judicial nominees.

Margaret Thatcher once said; "To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies."This is exactly what the Democrats are asking the Republican majority and the President to do in the name of unity. I for one am not buying this bill of goods. In fact, I won't even lease it. There are approximately 100 outcomes that follow this line or reasoning, 99 are very bad. The remaining outcome is based on the assumption that Democrat's policies are the best for America. As I think on this further, let me restate my opinion, all 100 are very bad. The President has extended his hand across the isle in the first months of 2001 and after 9/11, only to get thrown under the bus by a very bitter Democratic leadership.

Carl Rove retold just one example of the hypocritical behavior of the Democrats in congress on the November 7th broadcast of Meet the Press with Tim Russert.

"I remember well after 9/11 sitting with the president and a leader of the Democratic Party talking about the economic stimulus package. The president said, "Look, our economy's been hit hard on 9/11. We need to do something to jump start our economy. You know, my advisors at the Council of Economic Advisors tell me the number one thing we can do to jump start the economy is A." And this Democrat leader said, "Well, Mr. President, I can't get the votes for A, but I can get the votes for B." And the president said--listened to him and several days later laid out his package and included as one of the principle elements of it B. And that Democrat leader immediately went out and criticized it. And, you know, I was angry at the time. I remember the president saying, "Look, that's the way the town works. Let it go."

I hope that President Bush tells this Congress that he is leading this nation in a new direction, you can get on board or get out of the way.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Putting tusks on a jackass just won't do it.

As I listen to the democratic pundits and MSM gather up the broken pieces of their 2004 campaign, they still don't understand why they lost. How could they. The problem, as they see it, is voters did not feel comfortable with the way democrats talked about religion and values. I listened to one after another of the democratic brain-trust say that if they just learn how to talk about God and morality in a way that doesn't offend these religious wakos, we will win in 2008.

I don't know what kind of work you as the reader do for a living, but lets say you are an auto mechanic. You know about cars, you like cars, they are part of your life. Now let's say there is someone that wants to sell you something, and this person, who does not know much about cars, believes that if he learns to talk about cars, you will buy what he is selling. Would that be very effective?
"Mr jackson, I see your driving a Ford Mustang, I own one too, I just love it, its a four wheel drive Mustang, with a Cummings diesel engine. Can I interest you in voting for me?"

The Democrats cannot or will not realize that people that hold values and religious beliefs at the heart of their being are not fooled by charlatans. As I write this, I must point out that hundreds of thousands of good folks did get suckered by Jim and Tammy Baker. However the Bakers were good Christians, they were just corrupted by power and greed. A similar situation has infected the Democratic party leadership.

As I posted previously, the Democrats must find in their party, religious, security minded, real people and put them in positions of real power. It will not do to have Deepak Chopra come to democratic leadership retreat and teach them how to talk like a real religious person. I think that is exactly what the dark blue elitist will do. It will lead to another crushing defeat.

I know democrats, I used to be one. I live in dark blue county of a dark blue state. There are moderate democrats that believe in God, would not abolish abortion, but cannot be in a party that fights for partial birth abortions. They are for a strong national defense and helping the most in need, without punishing the success that drives our economy and provides the jobs that everyone wants. The democrats will be shocked to learn that these leaders will be found in the Baptist churches of the south, and the fundamental churches of the Midwest, just the places they need help.

Will they do it. No

Why, they will have to something very fearful for the democratic leadership, willingly give up power in the short term to gain back the trust of Americans for the long term. This means telling the American public that we think Michael Moore is terribly misguided, and we do not think he speaks for our party. That means telling NARAL and NOW to shut up and lobby behind the scenes. Tell them that they will have to deal with a ban on partial birth abortion if they want any chance of saving Roe v Wade as the law of the land. This means telling Senoirs that social security as you know it will be changed because it has grown from a safety net designed to help fill the gaps in your own retirement plan, to a system that most of you think is your retirement plan. We know this will not be popular, but it is either a leaner more efficient form of social security or one day the checks will just stop coming.

Now that I think about it, there is no way the Democrats will do it, or if they did, no way the MSM would go along with it. OK here is plan B, listen to Schumer and Polosi and run farther to the left, all the way off the map to land of Howard Dean and Michael Moore.

I will pull up a chair and watch the train wreck.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Democrats loose big, will they comeback in 2006?

As word comes in that Senator John Kerry has called the President to concede the 2004 election, one must look at the two parties to see where we go from here. Republicans will no doubt feel that they have won a decisive victory, not only in the Presidential election but picking up 4 seats in the Senate and at least four in the House of Representatives. John Thune defeats former Senate minority leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota for the topping on the sunday.

Now that the picture comes into focus, a few questions need to be answered. Will the GOP drive a hard right leaning agenda through the Congress by picking off moderate democrats? Will the democrats make the same mistake they made in 02' when they lost and picked ultra-left Nancy Pelosi as the face of their party in the house? Those question will be answered soon.

If the democrats want to get back into the game, here is the way they can do it.
Find a base that is not divided before the race starts. Early in 2004 it was very clear that the democrats had placed their bets on groups of voters that contribute the vast majority of their time and treasure. These groups are the labor unions, both public and private, the pro-choice lobby, the anti-war movement, and the life long democrats that vote democratic because their parents had.

Most democrats that I know are not as liberal as the leadership of the democratic party by a factor of three to one. While they will say that they are pro-choice, they are not for partial birth abortion. They will say that they are for higher taxes on the rich, but they want their taxes lower. They don't like the war in Iraq, but they don't want to surrender and bring the troops and the terrorists home to America. Finally, they will say that they don't care what goes on the privacy of people's bedrooms, but they are not for gay marriage.

If the democrats want to win back the White house or even make gains in the congress, here is how they can do it.

Get used to loosing for a while.

The only way the democrats can pull them selves out of the huge hole they are in is to find out where the public is and find a way to out popularize the GOP. Here is another way to look at this, if you fight a war every four years with the same allies, and you keep loosing, find different allies. Tell the leadership of NOW, and NARAL that partial birth abortion is loosing them elections and supreme court justices. We want your money and your support, but if you don't change your position on this one issue, we won't be seen with you. Tell the public and private union bosses, hey, we fought for you on the baggage screeners after 9/11 when the nation wanted politicians to unite, and we were seen as partisans hacks not patriots. Tell the Howard Dean environmentalists and pacifists that we want your money and support, but we can't lock up the Anwar oil reserves when we are telling voters that the war in Iraq is a war for oil.

The republicans have discovered the big secret in our new political world. Clear, simple stands based on values. American values, not european values, not socialist values, not the new-age secular values that people find interesting but don't want to use to change the nations direction.

Why do I want the Democrats to come back to the center from the ultra-left edge of disaster?
Unity, the unity we need to win the war on terrorism that will be with us for generations. When America looks at two parties that reflect American values separated only by two different ways to get there, people will unite behind either party, no matter the victor.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Half way home and still up in the air.

Dateline Esparto; 7:45PM
Bush up in the electoral college, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania still undecided. I am waiting as fast as I can.