Category Archives: *Participate*

This is Not about Ireland

The old man sat alone in the pub.  On the table in front was a pint of Irish ale.  The sleeve of his tattered jacket, dirty as the whole of it, bore the symbol of an army long defeated on the battlefield, yet not in the heart of a true Irishman.  Or so he retold himself.  His eyes were glassy as they carefully examined the war of twenty-two and twenty-three.

“Will ye be hav’n another pint, old fella?” ask younger man dressed in the casuals of modern barman.  Then he stood and waited for a reply.  He stood a while longer…waiting for a reply.

The ancient shoulders squared.  His head snapped to attention like a soldier called for special assignment.  “Maybe one for the boys, and then I’ll be head’n me back to joint them.”  He looked and sounded sad.

“Ma name is Andrew” the boy nearly whispered, “I notice your boys are left on quite a while back.  Can ya share with me just how you aim to catch on up to them?”

“Good ones, all of them.  They stood proud, you know!”

“I never had the chance to meet them, sir.  Ma shift is nearly done, will ya tell me who they were?”

“Well, lad, their names are gone from me, just as they left this life long ago.  But prouder men of Erin ya might like never to have found.  Loyal to their native land and lore were they.  Alright indeed lad, alright indeed.”

“Were they your sons?”

“Yea, they were sons and more.  They were friends.  Men of valor amongst them all.  Died fere Ireland they did.  Not to hoist the Union jack, but to bleed beneath honor of the Orange and Green.”

A quiet settled for a few moments, as those nearby set their mugs at rest.

“Tell me, lad.  What colors would ya lay your life down fere?”  It was asked with resolution, firmness, and dignity without judgmental challenge.  The room fell fully quiet.  Among those whose attention rested on the boy were men surely twice his age, yet still only half a lifetime spent during the old man’s years.

The young man blushed.  He was a college student studying accounting.  He had never considered himself one to be counted upon, but rather one who would simply count.  In a moment of brief self-introspection Andrew again spoke softly “It’s never given me no thought or care.  I mean ya no disrespect, sir, but that be how she really in ma head. It never gave me no thought.”

“Ah, me young lad, don’t let it be unnerving to ya.  Most of yer admirers in here have never gave her thought as well.”  There was a discernible shiver in the crowd.  “Give a good thought to me question, lad.  Give it a good thought.  Ya deserve to know what ya value, whatever she may be.”  With that the old man downed his last swallow of ale and left the pub.

The next morning at the pub Andrew skimmed the local news.  There on page four was a short article, accompanied by a picture.  The headline read “Final Captain of The Irish Civil War Found Deceased”.  Pictured below was a young man in a clean sharp battle dress jacket.  Beside that picture was another of the same man lying beside a stone that bore his name and date of birth.  He wore the same jacket, but it was worn and dirty.  On his chest, held firmly in a death grip, were the delicately folded Orange and Green.  No ribbons, no medals, no insignia of rank, just a tattered jacket and an aged yet pristine flag.

Three evenings later the boy began to write.  By midnight more sheets were in the trash than remained on pad.  But Andrew’s eye gleamed brighter than when he started.  He knew he was getting close.  As the morning rays of sunlight cast early shadows across the ground he walked toward a clothing store, with his written conscience resolutely in his trouser pocket.

By the time his shopping was done the shadows were at their shortest and the sun at her highest.  Andrew stood at the foot of a mound of dirt, headed by carved stone.  On the stone a death date had been chiseled more brightly than all the rest.

“I have an answer, sir” said Andrew, as softly as he ever spoke, but yet with a depth of conviction meant to come from an older, wiser, more hardened man.  He shifted in his new jacket.  In his hands he held the Orange and the Green, folded according to national custom.  Resting on the flag was his hand-written statement.

“I lay my life before my maker, for the blessing of life and liberty.

Together they are indivisible.  Life and liberty are one complete sentence.

Life begins with birth; it ends with liberty.

Ireland, Land of Abundance, grants abundance of life and a greater abundance of liberty.

The Orange (liberty) and Green (life) in a field of pure white represent a dedicated nation.

I lay my life beneath the Orange and Green, because without them abundance turns to shallow.

Erin Go Bragh.”

This article is a poor attempt at writing “in Irish”.  I conform to the notion that there are two nationalities: Irishmen, and those that want to be.  Many readers may believe this article is about Ireland, about nationality, or simply a short tale.  Do not be derailed!

This article is about life and liberty…and what they really mean.  Reread…between the lines.

Wounded Vets Take Message of Hope to Victims

Without fanfare or cameras several Marines visited victims of the Boston Bombing with a message of hope. Having lost limbs themselves, they were able to share hope with the hurting.

Bloomberg News: B.J. Ganem lost a leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving in the Marines. Bobby  semper fi fundDonnelly lost his after a high-altitude parachute jump.

When the explosions went off in Boston last week, ripping through the crowd and injuring more than 260 people, the two ex- soldiers and three other veterans quickly flew to Boston to meet with the victims who lost limbs. Their goal: To bring a message of hope to the survivors, showing them how active they could be despite their injuries, Ganem said in an interview.

The Marines are part of the Semper Fi Fund, a group that provides assistance for wounded and critically injured Armed Forces members and their families. The fund helps soldiers with their lives post-injury, adapting their homes, getting prosthetics and providing support.

Bloomberg: Ganem, 36, is an endurance athlete who dances with his daughter using Microsoft Corp.’s motion-activated Kinect gaming console, he said. Donnelly, 30, competes in triathlons. They each own about a half-dozen artificial legs, some of which they showed off for the amputation victims at Boston Medical Center.

“A couple of the girls are big dancers,” Ganem said of the patients he visited for about 30 minutes each in their rooms at the hospital. “I told them, ‘I play the Kinect with my daughter and scored pretty high, and you already know how to dance. I don’t have any rhythm, so you guys can score amazing.’

“They were laughing,” he said yesterday. “It was good, the families really appreciated that.”

Read the entire article at Bloomberg or visit the Semper Fi Fund for more information.



Would You Sign to Rid U.S. of 1st Amendment?

These guys would.

Clips from this video were shown on Fox and Friends Friday. The creator, Mark Dice, wanted to challenge the knowledge of Obama supporters by offering a petition to rid the US of its pesky First Amendment.

Is it okay for those mean right wingers to criticize the president? Want to stop those haters?

Watch as the majority of these naive voters easily sign away their rights.  They have no idea the importance our forefathers placed on free speech nor it’s role today.

This will make you shake your head.

Happy Days! Twinkies to Return Soon!

Hostess_twinkiesNo need to test the longevity of your Twinkies purchased pre company breakup, your favorite snack may be back on the shelves as soon as July!

A Columbus, Georgia Dolly Madison plant is scheduled to be up and running by July. The reformulated Hostess Brands expects the most popular products to be back on the shelves this summer.

In a bankruptcy forced liquidation Hostess due in part to a lengthy impasse by striking workers, the brand and five of the bakeries were bought in a joint venture by two private equity companies.

The Dolly Madison plant in Columbus, Ga., will be the first to reopen. The ‘new’ bakery is inviting former workers to apply for positions. There has been no talk of unions in the new company.

In its new iteration, the company will hire 200 workers for jobs starting this summer. Another 100 jobs will follow. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said her town is better off with the opportunities — whether they’re union or not.

“I think we’re very happy to have the jobs back; 300 jobs is better than zero jobs,” she said.

Read more at CNN Money.

On a Fool’s Errand

Sometimes it appears that the federal government, maybe every level of government, is on a fool’s errand.  Now, for those that are unaware of this phrase a fool’s errand is “a completely absurd, pointless, or useless errand”.

Some examples of a fool’s errand would be the United States Senate, controlled by Democrats, spending hours attempting to pass a gun control Bill that is completely absurd, pointless to send it to Republican House of Representatives, and ultimately a useless effort.  The president, rather than recognizing the inevitable outcome, then squeals like a stuck pig because it didn’t pass the Senate.  He promises to not let it go, just like he did with “Obamacare”.

Now, consider that for all intents and purposes Obamacare has been an abject failure.  States are getting waivers.  Cost projections to conduct the fiasco have exceeded all pre-vote estimates.  Businesses are making major shifts toward reducing personnel expenses in order to avoid Obamcare mandates.  In other words the jobs recovery is in fact threatened by this boondoggle.  Barack Obama is a lame-duck president.  His shaky allies from the Obamacare days will not have the loyalty to him that he could demand previously.  A fool’s errand.

Let us move on so as not to focus all failures on the president.  The senate had the opportunity to prevent a discussion of the violation of Second Amendment.  Sixty-eight senators, including sixteen Republicans decided for their various reasons to evade their oath of office, which reads:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Yet, sixty-eight senators specifically ignored “I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same”. The oath does not say “If I agree with it”.  Now for clarification the Constitution says, quite clearly I might add, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.

In other words each senator takes an oath of allegiance to not infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.  That is the starting point, not the fallback position.  An effort by the senate, regardless of how well meaning it was, to bring this gun control Bill to the floor for a vote was in fact a fool’s errand.  For a senator faithful to their duty any excuse was absurd.

Finally, following on these ill-conceived notions by Senators, House members, and the President we had a terrorist attack in Boston.  I have jokingly said that more people were trampled by Washington politicians, racing for a microphone, than were injured in that attack.  Each had to express an opinion outside their role in the government.  They pretend to be reassuring the nation and consoling the victims.  Yet, we have become so accustomed to their frivolity we recognize their efforts for what they really are; A fool’s errand, absurd and unbelievable.

I am not hard-hearted.  I fully believe in rallying a nation behind a good cause.  However, I also oppose grandstanding by politicians to curry favor during a crisis.  Here is the key element.  Congress passed a Bill to provide for the defense of the nation.  The president signed that Bill, and it became law.  Whether you agree with that law or not Congress is done with it.  The Executive Branch has a duty under that law.  Grandstanding by Congressmen is a fool’s errand.

Now, back to the president.  His duty is to faithfully execute the laws of the land.  That duty is in the Constitution as his oath of office; ” I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  That is all he needs to do.  It is neither requisite nor prudent to engage in discussions of reading someone their rights, exaggerate to avoidance of the use of the word “terrorist”, or even issue threats (idle or genuine).  To do otherwise is “completely absurd, pointless, or useless”.  Regardless of what religion the president is, or claims to be, the advice of Jesus Christ is sound “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; {or} Nay, nay.”

The nation, overall, lacks confidence that our Washington DC elected officials are sincere, capable, or rational.  The people see them as being on a fool’s errand.  And, quite candidly, that is exactly how they act.




Contrary to DHS Reports, Illegal Border Crossings Thriving

border warning signAccording to an investigative report written for the Arizona Republic in the past five years more than $106 billion have been spent to build fencing along more than 650 miles of the border and and more than doubling the number of Border Patrol agents along it to almost 18,500. They erected surveillance towers and hidden sensors. They added  drones, aircraft, canine teams, horse patrols, checkpoints and vehicle patrols that range up to 60 miles from the actual border to arrest migrants and catch drug smugglers.

All of this infrastructure — along with a 58 percent drop in the number of migrants arrested by the Border Patrol compared with five years ago — underpins Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s claim that the border is more secure now than it has ever been. Arizona Central

But is it?

Last week it was reported that a radar equipped drone used by the Customs Department demonstrated less than half of those illegally crossing from Mexico were stopped by border agents. Customs department officials blames the ‘Got Away’ rates on rugged terrain, lack of border agents and inability by the drone to differentiate US citizens from others.

It was further reported that many of those caught by the Border Patrol are no longer hiding from officers but instead are turning themselves over to officials. The word in Mexico is that those who make it into the US are going to be eligible for amnesty.  The agency’s official response is that this sudden spike in arrests and the reason for it is anecdotal but one has to wonder what message is being sent by the current administration.

The Border Patrol policy is that they do not try to stop illegal crossings at the border; instead they try to stop illegals before they get too far. This policy means that Arizona and other state residents who may own land adjacent to the Mexico border must deal with a daily influx of border crossers. They must protect themselves and their families in this ‘no man’s land’ and fear the US government if they themselves don’t follow all laws, including holding suspected illegal crossers on their private land.

Contrary to Secretary Napolitano’s confident statements about our Southern border, it still appears that we must secure it before trying to enact an amnesty program.


WSJ: Our Changing Relationship with Health Care

obamacare falloutThis week in the Wall Street Journal there is an interesting ‘on the ground’ look at health care and how it has changed in the past 50 years. The article is particularly worth watching because it is written by ‘former’ physician Dr. Ed Marsh.

Dr. Marsh opened his practice in pediatrics in the early 1960’s, ran a solo practice for many years until he joined a third party group, feeling the growing interaction with insurance and government regulations.

“Preventive care” became the touchstone. The concept is obvious, but the evidence for its value, and especially its potential for savings, is rarely conclusive.

Insurance relationships drove practice relationships. Patients were more likely to come to me because their insurance told them to, and more likely to leave, despite our congeniality, because their insurance required it. Thus our dealings were less personally rewarding, for my patients and for me.

When it became increasingly difficult to work according to my principles, I closed my practice, first joining a “prepaid” group for 15 years, and then leaving patient care altogether. As more physicians leave active practice, it must be appreciated that a focus on the economics of health care is not the only, and perhaps not even the most important, reason for their disillusionment. The glow of the personal relationship one might have with one’s patients is being extinguished.

You can read the full article at the Wall Street Journal. For additional information on the changes in health care the editorial board of the WSJ gives a helpful, yet brief, synopsis explaining our managed care past and where we are today. Board member and Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Rago explains why the big bureaucracy of Obamacare will decrease the relationship between you and your doctor while making it more difficult to get the care you need.

In the Face of Personal Loss, Where is Our Compassion?

compassionWhat has happened to society? Why, when someone suffers a personal loss, are so many jumping to criticize, scorn, and generally offer hate filled messages? Where is our compassion?

This morning websites in the United Kingdom opened their pages for readers to offer condolences and tributes with the death of their former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But before the day’s end, The Daily Telegraph closed their web pages to comments as Editor Tony Gallagher tweeted: We have closed comments on every #Thatcher story today – even our address to email tributes is filled with abuse.

There is no doubt that Thatcher’s iron fist and union breaking government caused many from the 80’s to dislike her policies but is there no room for even one day of remembrance before striking out?

In another sad event, closer to home, this weekend well known Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide. As Pastor Warren wrote and friends suggested, the son struggled many years with mental illness and depression. Yet, almost before the news was out the criticisms of Warren and his Christian religion were spread across the social media.

Would we be so quick to hate in real life? Or is it through the anonymity of the internet that so many feel free the boundaries of civility and able to spew vitriol without having the least bit of compassion for a family facing such a loss?

Are we not allowed ideological differences? Where is our compassion?

The clip below is from FNC’s Megan Kelly on American Live as she discusses the appalling comments towards the Warren family with Father Jonathan Morris of the Catholic Church and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. As Perkins said, “There was a time when, even when we differed ideologically, we would take a break when a family suffers such a great tragedy.” And as Father Jonathan recommends, let’s offer our prayers and positive affirmations in large numbers to keep the negative comments in context.

Read more at Washington Times

Putting Kids in a Bubble?

happy birthdayAccording to new rules from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Aussie children will no longer be allowed to blow out candles on their birthday cake. Citing the possibility of spreading germs, the NHMRC recommends parents use single cupcakes with each having one candle on it.

Parents, doctors and other caregivers wonder if these new restrictions might be putting kids into a germ free bubble which, while keeping them away from contagions as a child may limit the building of a health immune system needed to fight off infections later in life. Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Steve Hambleton says it is healthy for children to be exposed to a certain amount of environmental antigens that build their immune systems.

There was reassuring news from the Perth Minister’s Department: “We’re not going to have the cupcake police out…”

One has to wonder if Nanny State promoter NYC Mayor Bloomberg has heard about this yet?

Read more at the Daily Mail.

Shorter Jay Carney: Obama’s Not King, You Know

White Hkingouse Press Secretary Jay Carney spoke about the much delayed budget President Obama will finally unveil next week.

“What I will say is that this is not the president’s idealized budget,” said Carney,  “It is not what he would do if he were king, or if only people who supported his proposals were in Congress.

Have we ever had a president who more wished to be king instead of having to deal with those pesky other equal but separate, branches of government?

Gosh darn those Founding Fathers.

Reps Chaffetz & Bentivolio Tour a Porous AZ Border

Following a recent visit to the Arizona border by senators, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Kerry Bentivolio, (R-MI) toured the Yuma Sector of the Arizona-Mexico border.

The following is from Representative Chaffetz’  public Twitter account. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Most residents of the US have never seen the arid border that is constantly under discussion due to its lack of security. This photo essay helps demonstrate more clearly the situation Border Patrol and Sheriffs in the area have to deal with daily.
chaffetz 21Image 1: A visit to the Eloy ICE Detention Center. Of the 1493 inmates over 900 are classified as OTM (Other Than Mexican).  Images 2,3,4: Border ‘fences’ near Yuma.

chaffetz 22Images 5,6: Agents use ATV’s to patrol the rugged sand dune area. Note the lack of shielding for the agents. During the visit 9 Romanians were caught trying to enter the US illegally.
Images 7,8: At the remote San Luis 1 station 16-20,000 passengers per day cross into the US. Agents use dogs and behavior profiling in their search for illegal contraband.

chaffetz 23Image: 9 Why doesn’t the TSA use dogs and behavior profiling as effectively as the Border Patrol? Image 10: Another stretch of border ‘fence’. Images 11,12: A US elementary school just North of the border has 60 minor children who walk across the border each day to and from school. No paperwork. No questions asked.

chaffetz 24

Images 13,14: Just two of the vehicles stopped during the congressmen’s visit with hidden marijuana and meth.

You can read more about the trip at the SLC Tribune.

Obama Pushes Banks to Accept Less Qualified for Home Loans

Wait a second! Didn’t we just go through this? Doesn’t this sound like déjà vu all…over again?

Let’s look back. Less than 20 years ago, in order to buy a home one had to meet certain criteria. That is: to have a verifiable job, have saved (yes, scrimped and done without to save) 20% to put down (certain qualified groups like vets could get loans with less down), and to have a history of paying bills in a timely fashion. It was a standard that not everyone could make.

But the government, your congress, in its infinite wisdom said, “Hey, we think everybody should be able to buy a home. After all, it’s the American Dream.” And Presto! They changed the rules. They told banks to accept less than verifiable job information. They told banks that people shouldn’t have to save money to buy a home. And they told banks that paying bills on time was an ideal, not a requirement.

fannie-maeAnd Congress said banks could offer low equity loans, creative financing, including interest only so that everyone could afford  to own a home.

Of course, we’re all for home ownership. But it comes with a price. Our family chose to do with less so that we could save money needed to put down on a home. We knew that there was a limit on what size of home we could afford. Common sense…and the mortgage company…dictated our price range. We bought our home hoping that the value would increase, but realizing that the five year balloon payment meant that we would have to refinance no matter.

But what happened? You know the story. Heck, it isn’t ancient history. The housing bubble burst less than ten years ago. People who couldn’t really afford to be in homes suddenly discovered they couldn’t make the payments when the real loans came due (the interest only and sub-prime loans only lasted so long). The market value of homes dropped and more new homeowners realized they owed way more than their home was worth. Many walked. Leaving banks holding the mortgages until the banks folded leaving, yes, you guessed it, taxpayers footing the bill.

After most banks were bailed out and scolded by the ‘smarter, wiser’ administration they went back to requiring certain criteria before they would loan money. A lesson learned. Or so we thought.

This week President Obama came out with a new proposal wanting banks to accept less than qualified people for home loans. After all, it’s the American Dream. You can read about it in the Washington Post.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.


HHS Then: Time to Cut Medicare Advantage…Now: Time to Boost Medicare Advantage

Kathleen_Sebelius_Secretary_of_Health_and_Human_Services_nominationIt was just February of this year that the Health and Human Services Department announced it would cut payments to Medicare Advantage, using those funds to help finance the expenses of ObamaCare. Now, in a reversal the Obama Administration said it will increase the payment for health insurers who offer the Medicare Advantage program.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Monday it will increase the rate by 3.3 percent in 2014, reversing a 2.3 percent cut announced in February.

This reversal followed an intense lobbying program by seniors and Medicare Advantage Insurance providers who were warned of significant cuts to the popular program. Some insurance providers had hinted they would drop the program due to the cuts.

“The policies announced today further the agency’s goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice,” Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said in a statement.

Again, as with the Affordable Care Act itself, it appears there was little actual foresight or planning.

Read more at Kaiser Health News.

$80M Pork Project Sits Useless in AK

It sounds like an April Fool’s news story. But it’s not. Over the weekend a report emerged that should make everyone shake their heads. A brand new, unwanted high speed ferry worth $80 Million was put up for auction receiving only one bid of $750,000.

The 200 foot vessel was christened in 2010. Built in Southeast Alaska it was designed for use in the Southcentral area of the state. Only problem? There is no dock or plans to build any docking facilities for the ferry.

So what happened?

In a nutshell, a boat designer convinced the state of Alaska and the Department of Defense that he could create a new type of boat that could be raised or lowered in the water providing icebreaking ability. This high speed vessel would be used to ferry residents the length of Cook Inlet and would be available for rapid deployment in case a disaster, such as an emergency plane landing in the inlet.

It sounds good on paper right?

Imagine with me a whole bunch of guys spending other peoples’ money talking about this idea. You might call them ‘Yes-Men’. Imagine the adjectives being tossed around: novel, new technology, rapid response, ground breaking. . . Sure, they all said, “Let’s build it!”

But what about the cost?

The population of the entire borough this ferry would serve was only 80,000 residents. In fact, Alaska’s most populated city of Anchorage hovers at 300,000. A pricey endeavor for a small population. Luckily, the Navy was interested and because they were, much of the money was paid from the DoD budget. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was said to be instrumental in getting the earmarks for this pork project added. (Yes, he was a Republican.)

MV_Susitna_-_Catamaran_Ice_Breaking_Ferry_for_AlaskaUnfortunately, without additional foresight, the prototype was built.

After its completion, a state study discovered the boat can hold 134 passengers but only 20 vehicles, and burns 375 gallons of fuel an hour. A state ferry with a similar capacity, the Lituya, burns 55 gallons an hour. The borough and the state decided they really couldn’t use it. It was too expensive and docks currently within the state ferry system would have to be reconfigured.

Here we are three years later. It costs the state $75,000 each month to maintain and now we know nobody else even wants to bid on this white elephant…or should we say orca?

One has to wonder, in light of the severe military cuts via the sequestration, how many veterans college tuition costs would have been covered if the federal government had just thought this project through?

Read more at the Mat-Su Borough website, the Anchorage Daily News or even the MV Susitna’s own website.

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