Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are you ready to be a difference maker?

What kind of friend are you? Are you the person people come to when they are in a trouble? Are you the person they can confide in when they are hurting? Are you the person who will be there for them when they need it most? Are you?

Let me begin by saying, those kinds of friends are invaluable, they are the difference makers in our lives. They keep us grounded in reality, and it’s their advice we seek first when we need to make a big decision or when we need someone to tell us the truth, even if it hurts. Here is the question; do you want to be that friend? Are you willing to take action? Do you want to go deeper to help someone?

I would like to think of myself as someone you could count on when things go south, but when I look back at the many opportunities I had to really make a difference in someone’s life, I didn’t act. I said to myself I was too busy or too uncomfortable with the situation or I didn’t have anything meaningful to say to that person at that time. Those are all excuses, and not very compelling ones at that.

Having just attended the Thrive Leadership Conference in Granite Bay, I kept coming back to one idea many of the speakers touched upon, being a difference maker. When we see all the hurting people and suffering in the world, we want to do something about, and we should. But how do you start? Really, how do you start to help a few billion people around the world? Here is what I think, for what its worth. Look at the person next to you, ask them how they are doing, and don’t take ‘fine’ for an answer.

Folks, we are all great actors. At some of the lowest points in my life, I looked outwardly like I had the whole world by the tail. We are so good at covering up our pain and our worries that those around us, even those closest to us, have no idea what we are going through.

Here is a simple way that could help lift the mask off and help make a difference; Ask a friend how they are doing, when they answer ‘fine’, ask them “are you sure?” It’s amazing to me how those three words can give someone permission to start a real conversation. If you are ready, if you really want to know how your friend is doing, ask them like you mean it. Listen to them, don't try to fix anything, don't go Dr. Phil on them, just listen, be there for them. Answers can come later, just be there for them.

Like that 70's song goes, "we all need somebody to lean on". You can be that somebody, if you choose to be.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Welcome Daily Democrat and Sacramento Bee readers

If you stumbled on this site, first let me say welcome. I hope you scroll down the sidebar to my past posts and see if anything jumps out to you, if it does, click it and read more.

I keep sending the Daily Democrat my posts and Jim Smith, the editor, is crazy enough to print them. The Blog Watch at the Sacramento Bee must wait around for me to post something that will stir the pot, they usually don't have to wait long.

Please let me know what you think, you may think I am mad as a hatter or a religiously fanatic redneck who figured out how to turn on a computer. You may even agree with me!
Either way, post your comments.

(leave your obscene language to Kos and the fever swamp please)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Being the dad you wish you had

Who goes to church conferences? I used to think it was only for Pastors, church elders or staff, basically full time ministry people. If you asked me a few years ago if I would like to attend a church conference, I would have declined. Why would I go listen to a bunch of stuffy, boring 'church people' talking about the best color of carpet to put down in your activities room to hide the Kool Aid stains?

I have had great experiences in church and I have seen the side of the American church that drives people away. I have walked out of a church, a growing church, because of the way they bickered about what kind of worship music to play or how they have been doing it this way for years and we don't want to change. The number of churches in decline is staggering.

So what makes a thriving church? If I had to sum it up in a sentence, it would be this. A thriving church is passionate about lost people, it is passionate about kids, and cares more about reflecting Jesus back to the world than it does about carpet colors or the layout of it's program handout.

The breakout sessions at the Thrive Conference are what bring me back. The general sessions with speakers such as Sherwood Carthen, Francis Chan, Miles McPherson, Brennan Manning, and Ray Johnston are great, but the small breakout sessions are my favorite. The best session I attended at the conference, in my humble opinion was "Being the dad you wish you had" presented by Greg Weisman. Greg is the Pastor for Men's Ministry and Adventure Sports for Bayside.

I sat in a room with 30 other dads, or dads to be, and listened as Greg told the story of his relationship with his father. Although his story was different than mine, the feelings it brought up were strong and sometimes painful. He explained his father's story and the way he was raised by his grand father. He finally came to the conclusion that it was unfair to hold his father up to the example of today's fathers. He said his dad did the best he could with the example he had seen in his grandfather, and because he was working so hard to keep the bills paid. Greg said when he realized the pattern that runs in his family, he made a conscious decision to break it. Amen to that.

What followed was an hour of great information about being a great father to both your sons and your daughters. Be a man of God, MAKE time for your family, love your wife, be real with your kids, spend individual time with your kids, choose your vacations and leisure carefully, do what THEY love to do, treat your boys like boys, treat your girls like girls and so on.

Nothing earth shattering, nothing outside my ability, just honest ways I could become the father I wish I had. I have some homework to do this week that I hope I can turn into habits.

This is a side of the church that most people don't see, and that has to be laid at our feet, as the body of Christ. If the church in you neighborhood closed it's doors, would anyone notice? If not, you had better roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I have no comment

I figured I had better post this before Rexroad asks if I have been to New Jersey lately.

N.J. Officer Allegedly Performed Sex Acts On Cows

Authorities announced Moorsetown Officer Robert Melia Jr., 38, has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty after allegedly engaging in sex acts with cows between June and December of 2006.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hillary wins the Keystone State.

Hi Kathy, congratulations on Hillary winning last night.

Thanks Mark

It looks like this could go on all the way to Denver and the Convention.

It sure will, Hillary is a fighter

That's for sure, too bad she doesn't have enough delegates to win.

She will if she gets all the Super Delegates smarty pants.

I'm just sayin' there is no way she can win, Barack has more delegates and more votes.

She is a determined woman, she can do it.

Determination? Its impossible for her to win, why doesn't she get out of Barack's way and let him start taking on McCain?

McCain is going to mop the floor with your smooth talking dreamer.

Barack isn't like the rest of the politicians, he wants to reach out, put aside partisanship and get things done for real Americans.

Oh, you mean like he has done in his three years as United States Senator? What has he done for Pete's sake, he hasn't reached across the isle to anyone, he hasn't sponsored any real legislation, all he's done is run for President the past three years.

Well, at least he's not a washed up, bag of venom that more than half the country hates to it's core.

At least Hillary doesn't have some crazy preacher making stupid statements about race.

No, she has Bill to do that......

Ok sir, here is your tripple shot, soy, carmel macchiato, with extra whipped cream, and mam, here is your non-fat latte extra hot with the foam in a seperate cup.

Can I have a large coffee?

So that is a venti Gold Coast?

Is that a large?

Yea, sort of.

RE: Save the planet by doing 5 things

# 5 Buy natural cleaning products.
# 4 Bring your own bags when you shop.
# 3 Use compact florescent light bulbs.
# 2 Stop getting ATM receipts and cardboard sleeves for your coffee.
# 1 Quit buying plastic water bottles.

Save the Planet? Oh please.

I know Tuesday is Earth Day and we are told by every morning news program, newspaper and radio station that if we do these 5 or 10 easy things, we can save the planet. Not so fast. I have a few questions.

Save the planet from what exactly? Humans?
If so, taken to its rational end, the solution to the problem would be to remove all the humans from earth, right?

Happy Earth Day, now go jump in front of a bus. That doesn't make for a very nice t-shirt does it?

How exactly does not printing out an ATM receipt, replacing an incandescent bulb with a CFL, or bringing your own bag to Nugget going to save the planet?

Before you send me all the info about changing my light bulbs to CFLs is the same as burning my car and walking to work, let me say I am all for conservation. I don’t ask for a plastic bag to carry my Cherry Coke Zero from the cashier to my car, I have my own coffee mug that I refill instead of getting a paper cup with one of those earth destroying cardboard insulators, after all, I love the polar bears. These things are all good ideas, and we should encourage people to do them, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re impacting any problem on a global scale.

The false sense of ‘doing something’ to ‘save the planet’ in my opinion is almost as bad as doing nothing. Here are some realities that you should be aware of.

China and India have doubled the private ownership of cars from 1995 to 2000. That is six short years. Goldman Sachs predicts in twenty years, China will be number one and India will be right behind the US when it comes to auto sales. Russia and Brazil show similar rates of growth in car ownership, they just don’t have the population of the Asian markets. Their ‘middle class’ is booming. Sachs also predicts by 2050, China and India will have surpassed the US as economic powers.

China and India are just now starting to hit their economic stride. That means both nations will be burning fossil fuels at rates that will surpass the evil, polar bear drowning US. I know you like to give dirty looks to the guy driving his Chevy Tahoe down the freeway at 70 miles per hour, but the truth is the US will continue to become more efficient in the way it uses energy while the rest of the world does what ever it takes to keep their economies growing at double digit rates.

China is burning coal like there is no tomorrow. If we are to believe Al Gore and the rest of the ‘twenty years until we kill the planet’ gang, then we are surely going to die. If the US ceased to exist as user of fossil fuels this week, the rest of the world will take up the slack and then some.

There are no easy solutions to save the planet. Recycling and conservation are good things to be sure. I encourage everyone to recycle and with gas close to $4.00 a gallon, conservation will be a reality soon enough. Innovation has revolutionized the world before, lets hope some 20 year old guy sitting in lab somewhere tinkering with some gadget that will turn coffee grounds and newspapers into clean fuel will come along. Soon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I think I may have sprained my eardrums

I now know why I don't live in the town of Esparto. One of the many meeting I have each month is held at the Esparto Fire Department meeting hall. The Yolo County Cattlemen and Wool Growers Association meetings are usually 90 minutes long and when we adjourn we always seem to linger in the parking lot for five or ten minutes before we head home. I have found a definite flaw in the way we leave our meetings.

The fire department siren, mounted forty feet above the fire house on the old water tower, is louder than any Van Halen concert I ever attended. Oh my goodness. With no warning our small talk went from a friendly level to 118 dB in half a second. No words were said, we all waved goodbye and trotted to the relative safety of our cars.

Punishment for lingering I guess. Maybe they should use these to break up riots or take paint off houses.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Broken People

I have always been a luke warm Christian, neither hot or cold, just happy to attend church once in while and go about my daily life trying not to be a bad person. If your there right now, I know it's comfortable, but we were not put on this earth to be comfortable.

I wondered if God could use a broken person like me to do anything worthwhile? I am not pillar of my community. I do have wonderful family but most of the time I believe it's not because of me, it's in spite of me. My life has been full of mistakes, poor decisions and a pension for stupidity that plagues me to this day. When I went to the Thrive Conference in Granite Bay last year, I came away with two ideas that were worth the price of admission. God uses broken people, and effective ministry is messy. If you wait for everything to be planned out and everything to be perfect before you start, your ministry will never get out of the planning phase.

Knowing the kind of person I am, I was afraid I would try and fail. I didn't want to let my weaknesses effect the way other see God. I had never led a Bible study before, I had attended a few, but the thought of others looking to me for direction was, and still is, a little frightening. I took the leap last year and started a small group Bible study here in Esparto. It has been one of the best experiences in my spiritual life.

Last year I ran into the Pastor from Countryside Community Church in Esparto at Thrive and we spoke about the possibility of bring a small worship team to her church once a month, I said I would ask around our church and see what we could do.

This morning at Countryside was truly special. Our little group, three guitarists strong, led the worship. Becky, Tim and Steven, you were great this morning. People opened up and shared their hurts in their lives, their honesty was amazing to see and we gathered around them in prayer as Pastor Pamela lifted these people up Lord. That service lead to a few more conversation after church, powerful conversations revealing more hurt and the need for more prayers. That is what we are called to do, as the body of Christ, we are to reach out to those in need.

If your idea of religion is about hypocrisy and people looking down their noses at you, then we as the church have a lot of work to do. I know one thing, and I know it down deep in my soul, there are many wonderful people who sit quietly in churches across Yolo County, if they knew you were hurting and in need of someone to lean on, a shoulder to cry on, or just to sit with you and let you know that someone simply cares, they would not hesitate to show you the love and compassion inside them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Oh great, yet another sign I am officially old

Where did my youth go? It seems like only a few years ago I was listening to Foreigner on my AM/FM Cassette deck, a cassette tape was before CDs kids, ask your parents, or grandparents. Yes, with the cool breeze flowing trough my shoulder length hair in my almost new 1979 pickup, I can remember singing along, badly, to Hot Blooded and now this.
AARP is proud to present its 15-city Feels Like the First Time Tour with the classic rock band Foreigner. Foreigner-- led by its founder, chief songwriter and legendary guitarist Mick Jones -- will draw from its repertoire of Top 10 hits, including Cold as Ice, Double Vision, Hot Blooded, Urgent and Waiting For a Girl Like You.
The AARP! Am I that old? What's next, Van Halen doing adds for Quaker Oats, Ozzy Osbourne selling diabetic supplies?

The horror of it all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Don’t put your values on me

A message to Senator Obama; don’t put your values on me.

Last Friday’s remarks made by Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama have given us a glimpse into how he views a great deal of his fellow countrymen, especially those who do not reside in the enlightened areas on both coasts and in the large metropolises. It seems if you are not one of Obama’s enlightened urban liberals, you are a bitter, frustrated, anti-immigrant, religious, gun nut.

It is rare in an election year for a candidate to come out and tell the American electorate just how he feels about them. So let me rephrase the Senator's comment so we common, rural folk can understand what he thinks of us.

All your life you have been waiting for Washington DC politicians to make your life better and it hasn’t happened. When all the big government promises didn’t come true, you became angry and began to cling to other things to make you feel better. You started clinging to religion and guns and started blaming ‘those people’ for your problems. In short, you poor, ignorant rubes, you can’t help yourself, your just too dumb to see how electing democrats will allow you to throw off this yolk of God and self reliance. If only you were smart enough, if only you were sent to wealthy private schools and attended Harvard like I did, you would see how more government, more taxes, open borders, and liberal ideals will make you happy.

Senator Obama, as one of the slack jawed, vacant eyed, unwashed masses, allow me to retort.

Senator, I worship Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, I am not a very good Christian, but the last thing I am clinging to is religion. I believe in the entire Constitution of the United States, including the second amendment. Out here in the country, we know it may take a while for law enforcement to come to our aid, the right to own and to be proficient in the proper use of firearms is not just a luxury, it is a necessity. I am not anti-immigrant, far from it, I wish the US would make it easier for more people to legally enter our country, learn the language and quickly become citizens. What I don’t want is amnesty for the 15–20 million illegal aliens inside the US while we get promises of a border fence. Secure the border first, and then come talk to me about giving legal status to those already here.

Finally Senator, the average American worker will do just fine without you in the White House. I know it’s hard for you to imagine, but before you came along offering the elixir of ‘change’ and ‘hope’, we managed to build the best nation on this planet. By the way, liberal socialism is change, but it doesn’t offer much hope.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ewoks, worse than mimes, or the French.

I am not sure why they are playing the Star Wars episodes back to back, to back to back on TV this week, but I am officially over it now. I was a big Star Wars fan growing up, I didn't have a Luke Skywalker action figure or anything weird, but I think I must have seen the original Star Wars movie a dozen times in the summer of 1977. I was eleven and I remember the first time I saw Darth Vader on big screen, I sank down in the plush velour seat hoping he didn't see me. Dang, that guy was scary.

Fast forward to 1981, I was a sophomore in high school, and when Luke discovers Vader is his father, after he cut off his hand that is in The Empire Strikes Back, I couldn't wait for the final film to wrap up the Star Wars trilogy. Oh my goodness was I disappointed. While the special effect were getting better with each movie in the series, and the light saber battle with Vader at the end is great, I could not get past the Ewoks.

Ewoks! What was going through George Lucas' mind when he decided that the Empire, the mightiest force in the galaxy, whose stormtroopers crushed all opposition and built not one, but two Death Stars, could be defeated by three foot tall teddy bears with pointy sticks and rocks? Not to boast, but I could defeat the entire Ewok special forces with a flat nosed shovel and a High Lift jack.

The final insult to my senses was the Ewok Celebration at the end of the film, or the Teddy bear tea party as I like to call it. After destroying the second death star, somehow or another defeating the Imperial Stormtroopers on Endor, and bringing balance to the Force while ending the reign of the Empire across the Galaxy, Luke and his gang head back to the Ewok tree forts where the Ewoks serenade everyone with an Gershwin inspired musical piece that makes the bile work its way up my throat whenever I hear it.

I hate the Ewoks with a passion, and that is a rare thing for me, I don't hate much of anything, but I draw the line at three foot tall, singing bears in my good versus evil sci-fi films.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Esparto Creeper

Its been almost two weeks since my infamous knee smashing incident on my quad, so I figured what the heck, lets take a day trip to the Clay Pits.

To be honest, it was not the place I was thinking of when my brother in law asked us to go. I thought we were going to Marysville to ride by the river, when I called from Woodland to ask where we going to meet up he said, the conversation went like this;

"Do you know where Gridley is?" he asked.

" Yes", I answered, "but why do I need to go to Gridley if we are going to ride in Marysville"?

"You need to go ten miles north of Gridley and take a right East Hamilton road, then left on Larkin Road" he explained.

"Dude, that's almost in Oroville" I replied.


After an almost two hour drive from my house, we arrived at the 'Clay Pits' SVRA park. It is a nice place to take beginner to intermediate ATV and dirt bike riders. When we parked and unloaded, we had the place to ourselves, by 1:00 the place was buzzing with forty or fifty riders. There is plenty of room in the park, so you could always find an area to have to yourself.

I took it easy with my knee still hurting from my last act of self-inflicted stupidity. My father in law just purchased a new Yamaha Grizzly 700. He is a new rider so he took it easy for most of the day, trying to get comfortable with his new quad and trying not to get it dirty. He has a new nickname, he is now known as The Esparto Creeper. While my son and I were having a blast riding through the muddy water at getting soaked in the process, The Creeper kept his shiny new toy well out of splashing range and would not be provoked into the water no matter how bad of a time we gave him.

Here are a few pictures of my son getting wet.

Here he is catching some air.

All in all, a fun day and I didn't break, sprain, bruise or lacerate a single body part. When you pass your fortieth birthday, these thing are more important than how much hang time you had going off the jumps.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rock concerts, how young is too young?

Time to put my 'cranky old guy' hat on and ask you a question.
Sometimes I refer to it as my 'concerned parent' hat, but crank old guy will do in a pinch.
How young is too young to let you kids go to a concert by themselves or with friends their age?

I say 18.

Before you fire up your computers to tell me I am indeed a cranky old guy and I should let my high school freshman go to any concert he wants to, let me give you a little background.

Back when gasoline was under a buck and the minimum wage was under $3.35 an hour, I spent every penny I had on concert tickets. Bad Company, Van Halen with David lee Roth, then Sammy Hagar, Judas Priest, Metallica, Ozzy, Dio, you name them, if they came to Northern California, I saw them. Being a rather big guy, I always could make my way to the front. I saw it all, lived through it and bought the t-shirt. I wish I still had some of those shirts today.

I know every generation thinks the one coming behind them is heading straight to Hell, hand basket or not, but I made myself a promise that I wouldn't be 'that dad' who is so out of touch with his children he doesn't know what music they listen to or what is going on on their lives. Some of the music my son listens to is just terrible, both musically and with the message it sends. However, there are some song that we both have on our iPods, many of them are 'my' songs on his playlist, but I do have some of 'his' songs on mine. I know, I know, with Ozzy and Judas Priests, who am I to complain about musical messages.

Two years ago my son wanted to see the Taking back Sunday and Angels and Airwaves show at Arco Arena. I took him. I sat through a few hours of music I didn't like because my son wanted to see what a concert was all about. He had a good time and I kept the drunken twenty-somethings at arms length. I think he understood my point about the opportunity for disaster when you mix thousands of young people with massive amounts of alcohol, pot and a few tweaking meth-heads. I said that there are about fifty things that can happen to you at a concert, six of those are good, the others are not.

Call it what you will, Metal, Punk, Thrash, Indie or generic rock n roll, kids want to see the show when it comes to town, go to school in their concert t-shirt and show their friends the grainy video they shot with their cell phone. I get it. I was just like that in high school, without the cell phone videos, but I also remember keeping some passed out thirteen year old girl from being trampled to death in the pit at a show. If I wasn't able to lift her over the barricade at the front row to the waiting EMTs, her parents would have received the phone call every parent dreads.

So for now he is stuck with me or one of our adult friends that I trust. I'm not talking about a watch my dog this weekend kind of trust, but bring my kid home unharmed trust.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

April 9th, 1865

Lee to his men-

"Men, we have fought through the war together. I have done the best that I could for you.Go home now. If you make good citizens as you have made good soldiers, you will do well. I shall always be proud of you. Good-bye and God bless you all."

The surrender terms Grant wrote for Lee were generous. Grant would not take any prisoners, but simply secure the paroles of officers and men not to take up arms "until properly exchanged"; for although the principal Confederate army had been vanquished, the war was not yet over. Other Confederate troops under other commanders remained in the field. Officers were permitted to retain their sidearms, and officers and men could keep their horses and their personal effects. Everyone would be "allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles..."

As Lee rode away, the Union soldiers began to cheer. Grant ordered them to stop. He said "The Confederates are now our prisoners, and we do not want to exault over their downfall. The war is over, they are our countrymen again". Lee's men lined the road to his camp. As he approached, his men began to cheer, as he passed by, those who could speak said good-bye, those who could not just stood silent and watched.

On April 10, Lee gave his farewell address to his army. The same day a 6-man commission gathered to discuss a formal ceremony of surrender, even though no Confederate officer wished to go through with such an event. Brig. Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain was the Union officer selected to lead the ceremony. As Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon passed, followed by the famous Stonewall Brigade, Chamberlain gave the order to salute. Gordon reared his horse and facing Chamberlain touched his sword to his toe returning the salute. Chamberlain said "It was honor answering honor."

The surrender started the unification of the country.

The stories of both Gordon and Chamberlain are fascinating. How they both lived through the war to meet at Appomattox is astounding in itself.

Wednesday night Bible study.....and desert bar.

Tonight our small group started a new Bible study on the book of Colossians. What the heck is a Colossian you say? Colossae was a city in what is today Turkey and home to one of very early Christian churches. They were having trouble trying to mix the message of Jesus Christ along with other religions and pagan rituals. Kind of like Oprah with her many paths to God philosophy that seem to be all the rage today. Seems not much has changed over the past 2,000 years!

The study material was designed by Stonecroft Ministries. If any of you have participated in a Stonecroft study you know they are primarily a women's based ministry, but after the first lesson, it seems to work just fine for everyone in our group, guys included. The cool thing is the study guide comes with its own New Testament and the study booklet refers to to scripture by page number as well as chapter and verse, so everyone can negotiate the Bible without getting lost or feeling embarrassed as they fumble through the pages looking for a passage.

Our small group has everyone in it from brand new believers to folks who have been in the word for many years. We all take turns reading and the study guide is very easy to use. The leaders guide is a great too and I would think anyone in our group could follow it and lead the Bible study. Hey if I can do it, believe me, anyone can. Colossians is a great study and we are all looking forward to it.

One of the best parts of the study for me is the prayer requests and praises session we have before we leave. Anyone in our group can ask the group to pray for a certain individual or issue that they are dealing with, our group is very confidential, what is said there stays there. That is the way it has to be to be effective. We also share our prayers that have been answered and any positive news we have.

We adjourn and have a cup of decaf and a desert, yea like I need that, but it is part of getting to know each other and a great way to end the evening.

If you attend a church, you really should join a small group, there are good ones out there and if you attend one and you don't feel comfortable, attend another until you find one that is right for you.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Softball, bad knee and all.

Oh my goodness, its official, I am way to old too old and overweight to play the hot corner.
I'm feeling it today.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston 1923-2008

Charlton Heston passed away today at his Beverly Hills home, he was 84.

I had the chance to meet Mr. Heston briefly in 2002 at the annual NRA convention in Reno.I asked him to sign his book, The courage to be free, which he did. While I thanked him for autographing my book, I saw a look in his eye that made me think he was not well. He seemed very vacant and frail compared to the actor I remembered from my youth. I mentioned it to my friend and we decided that he was probably ill or very tired from the convention. A few months later, Heston announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

While the left hated Heston for his outspoken defense of the Constitution, the entire constitution, not just the amendments they deem worthy, he was a an icon to conservatives. For anyone who doesn't know Charlton Heston, here he is, in his own words.
I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people." There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo. If you want the ceiling re-painted I'll do my best. There always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.

As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: if my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty, your own freedom of thought, your own compass for what is right.*

Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, "We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart. I'm sure you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you, the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.

Let me back up a little. About a year or two ago, I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms of American citizens. I ran for office. I was elected, and now I serve. I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile, crazy old man." I know, I'm pretty old, but I sure Lord ain't senile.

As I've stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are -- are not the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain accepted thoughts and speech are mandated.

For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- and long before Hollywood found it acceptable, I may say. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist.

I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life -- throughout my whole career. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out the innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite.

Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution I'm talking about, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.

From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind like that. You are using language not authorized for public consumption."

But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys -- subjects bound to the British crown.
The Kos kids are at it already with more to follow, but I must say there is one conservative in this thread who is calmly and rationally taking the lefties behind the woodshed for a good paddling.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Daily Democrat lifts yet another opinion piece. Part II

Jake Dorsey, Associate Editor
Dear Mr. Dorsey, on March 20th, 2008 I wrote a blog post at the Roughstock Journal pointing out the Daily Democrat's practice of publishing opinion pieces written by other newspapers and passing them off to the Democrat's readership as their own. I received a comment from you on my blog stating -
The opinion piece you refer to, from the San Jose Mercury News, was indeed copied. The Merc is a MediaNews Group paper; MNG is the parent company that owns the Democrat.

Newspapers, especially those within the same company, share editorials this way often; however, they are usually rewritten to some degree and are always meant to be credited to the original paper.

I will run a clarification on this issue in the March 29 edition of the paper and correctly attribute the San Jose Mercury News. Thank you for posting about this. The staff of the Democrat always appreciates readers keeping us honest.

Jake Dorsey
Associate editor, Daily Democrat
(530) 406-6231
It seems the practice of copying opinion pieces and not giving credit to its original author has continued and shows no sign of stopping.

It seems the Daily Democrat's opinion piece from April 4th "We can't afford to not fund state's colleges" was taken almost entirely from a Contra Costa Times piece published on the 23rd of March 2008.

The heading of the Democrat's opinion says -

We can't afford to not fund state's colleges
Daily Democrat
Article Created: 04/04/2008 08:56:58 AM PDT

That heading suggests to me that the piece was written by the Democrat's editorial staff on April 4th.

Mr. Dorsey, either the memo to the opinion staff has not been delivered, or the they seem quite content to pass off the writings of other talented people as their own.

I am very aware of the challenges facing small town newspapers with their limited staff and tight time lines. This however, is no excuse for plagiarism.

A response from Mr. Dorsey.

I have gone back to my editor, Jim Smith, and obtained clarification for how things work with the opinion page. I will try and be brief, and I appreciate your attention.

First, I must state that the opinion page is usually the only page in the newspaper I do not touch in any way, except for minor corrections. I leave that to Mr. Smith, in order to keep myself separate from the opinions published on that page. Mr. Smith therefore runs that page, and its contently, exclusively. For the record, during my tenure at the Democrat (09/26/05 – present) I have written two editorials — one on gay marriage, early on, and one recently about the three teens who beat up the woman at John Ferns Park.

Mr. Smith has told me that I was in error with my comment — papers actually share editorials throughout the company, and are often left uncredited. Mr. Smith only takes those editorials that he believes apply to Woodland or the county, and does not source them. He said that the Vacaville Reporter and the Vallejo Times-Herald, the two papers within our small group inside MediaNews Group, also practice this. Though I cannot find recent proof on the Reporter's Web site, the Times-Herald has copied, unsourced editorials (http://www.timesheraldonline.com/ourview/ci_8794930) from the Contra Costa Times (http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_8783420), which is one of two major MNG dailies in Northern California. Mr. Smith also said that even the larger papers, when they agree, share unsourced editorials, though I have no proof of this at hand.

The Times-Herald is a paper with roughly the same number of staff as us, so I assume it, like us, does not have a dedicated editorial page editor or writers. But you state it correctly — Mr. Smith basically doesn't have time to always write his own editorials five times a week, as he is busy maintaining the paper as a whole, especially when I'm off.

I've expressed my previous concerns to Mr. Smith, and we are discussing how things will operate in the future. For now, I will again run a clarification that also repeats the reasoning I gave in the above paragraph, in condensed form.

Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.....
Any time we can improve our paper to suit our readers is an opportunity for us that we take seriously.

Jake Dorsey
Associate editor, Daily Democrat
(530) 406-6231
Fair enough. Hopefully the Democrat will start using the "Media News Group" byline instead of the "Daily Democrat" byline. That would end the issue for me.

I thank both Jake Dorsey and the fabulously feathered Jim Smith for their attention and correspondence.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

When it rains, God sends folks with umbrellas and sandbags.

Sorry for not posting. It has been busy around casa de Cowboy.

First of all, I have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt I am way too old to do wheelies on my quad. I have the limp to prove it. My son is learning how to do slow speed wheelies and I thought I would show young pup how the old dog does it. I went a little too high and came off the back landing on my patella. Asphalt does not give very much. Nothing fractured, but I am sore as can be.

On the same evening I was playing Evil knievel, someone very close to me was taken in to the doctors office, almost kicking and screaming, to see why she was feeling so lousy. It didn't seem like much at the time, maybe an asthma attack, but they didn't know what it was and they wouldn't let her come home. The doctors couldn't find the problem, she had all the signs of a heart attack minus the enzymes that they find in the bloodstream. When she went to the ICU, thats when the cell phones started ringing. I had called some of the people in our small group Bible study and left a message while my wife started calling family.

I was at my doctor getting my knee looked at, when I got the call from my wife that things were getting serious. My doctor told to me to stop being a whus, my knee would be fine in week and to tough it out.

I arrived at the hospital and rang the ICU phone, when I was let it, I didn't need to be shown to her room, the whole family was there. Her family is very loud. I peeked in and said hello, then we tried to give her some privacy. Later in the day our friends from small group and even Pastor John stopped by to see how everyone was doing, keep our spirits up and led everyone in prayer.

I had gone home to rest my knee, but there was one poor guy in the ICU waiting room who wasn't with our group and John put his arm around the guy and prayed with him too. When John had left, one our group apologized to the man for mixing him in with our family and they man said it was not a problem and that he needed all the help he could get for his loved one in the ICU. My church is awesome.

As I write this, our special someone has three brand new stints in her and is resting comfortably in a Sacramento hospital. Praise God.

When I go through a crisis like this, I try remember to ask God to walk beside me, even if I can't see it reasons, thy will be done Lord. I know what I would like the outcome to be, but sometimes that is not God's will. I guess it is easy to heap praise on God on a day like today, but what if things had not gone the way I wanted? Would I feel the same? Probably not.

It is hard to praise God when our human side want to curse Him. Through a few dark times in my life I have learned one thing. The Lord is with us when things are the darkest, even when you think they cannot get any worse, even then, He is with us. He gives us hopes, comforts us, sends us people to care for our needs, in a word, He loves us in our sorrow.

Sometimes he answers our prayers just as we ask him. A huge thank you to everyone at our church who has been praying for us. We love you guys.

I can say that my church is an awesome church, because my God is an awesome God. He has filled our lives with people who care about us, would drop everything and come to our aid if needed and I hope we would do the same for them.

Do you have people who are there for you when you are in need?
I hope so, I really do.