Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Hitler Putin Connection


Earlier this month, England's Prince Charles got in trouble with Russian propagandists when he stated, ¨And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.¨

Putin's defenders blasted Charles for making such a comparison. Among other things, they pointed out that Putin's parents suffered during the WWII siege of Leningrad. They are very touchy because the similarities between Hitler and Putin are actually extensive and depressing.

Most people with a cursory knowledge of history see Putin's annexation of Crimea as similar to Hitler's annexation of the Rhineland, Sudetenland, and Austria. Both Hitler and Putin justified invasion by citing the ethnic makeup of the invaded lands as supporting extralegal invasion.

This similarity is just the tip of the iceberg. I recently finished reading The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen (Not available in Russian, thanks to Putin's control of the Russian media). It reminded me a lot of William Shirer's The Nightmare Years which detailed Hitler's ascendancy to power in the 1930s. Hitler arranged for rivals to be jailed or killed. He eliminated political opposition. He destroyed the free press. He faked violent events, blaming them on unpopular elements to create popular support. He created a cult of personality, presenting himself to the public as a national hero.

Russian journalist Masha Gessen bravely details the many criminal, thuggish, and dictatorial actions taken by Putin in his rise from a junior KGB operative to an accidental president to a dictator in all but name only.
  • Hitler was not able to gain power on his own. He came through the back door when he was picked to be the number two leader in Germany after President Paul Von Hindenburg. When Hindenburg died in office, Hitler slipped into power, never to give it up. Russian President Boris Yeltsin picked Putin to be the last in a string of prime minsters. Yeltsin was in poor health and his handlers were concerned that the opposition party would win the next presidential election in 2000 so they convinced Yeltsin to resign on the last day of 1999 and let Putin take his place, giving him the advantage of incumbency.
  • Prior to being picked as Boris Yeltsin's successor, Putin was a minor but important official in St. Petersburg (while still a nominal KGB employee). He was in charge of shipping commodities to Europe where the proceeds were supposed to be used to buy food for St. Petersburg. Instead, Putin diverted the money, pocketing millions for him and other local leaders. When government whistle blowers discovered the corruption, his boss Mayor Anatoly Sobchak ignored the report. Once in the office of president, Putin quickly took steps to protect and grow his power. Sobchak, who knew his tainted past, was poisoned to death. The murderer was never found. Many of Hitler's early supporters were also killed.
  • In the run up to Putin's accidental presidency, there were a spat of apartment building explosions that killed hundreds of people. Chechen terrorists were blamed, but curious journalists (still around in 1999) uncovered evidence that the bombs were actually planted by the secret police pretending to be Chechens to drum up support for the government. Hitler use a similar strategy when he burned down the Reichstag, blaming it on the communists.
  • Freedom of the Russian press during the 1990s came to an end when Putin arranged for all three TV channels to come under government control.  Hitler also suppressed media that he could not control. Critical journalists in both Hitler's Germany and Putin's Russia were imprisoned or killed.
  • Being successful was dangerous in Hitler's Germany where he confiscated the wealth of Jews and other nondesirables. Putin has found ways for the richest Russian businessmen to be charged of crimes, jailed, and their wealth transferred to Putin and his gang. Gessen estimates that Putin is a multi-billionaire from this scheme.
  • Hitler made sure that any elections were rigged so that the Nazis would win. Putin has done the same, putting up legal roadblocks and denying media access to any challengers.       
When I finished reading Gessen's book I felt like I had finished reading a Mario Puzo Godfather book -- only this is nonfiction. The scary part is that there are probably countless other examples of Putin's unsavory actions that we will never know because of his control of the Russian media. I highly recommend you read her book.

Sixty-one year old Putin will likely stay president of Russia until at least 2024. I am afraid that given his criminal background and character we are doomed to live through more bad times courtesy of Vladimir the Terrible.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nobody Ever Gets Fired


It is very frustrating when we repeatedly hear from President Obama that he is ¨mad as hell¨ at the latest scandal and that he plans to get to the bottom of it.

An important role for good leaders is to fire people when they are not doing their job.

Abraham Lincoln was famous for firing his top generals for failing to do their jobs. Before settling on a winner in Ulysses Grant, Lincoln fired Irvin Mcdowell, George McClelland (twice), John Pope, Ambrose Burnside, and Joseph Hooker.

During World War II, General Dwight Eisenhower fired generals on a regular basis. Officers who could not do their job were not acceptable. The success of the mission demanded that they leave.

When George Bush was president, he let Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld go for bungling the war in Iraq. He let FEMA Director Michael Brown go for bungling the Hurricane Katrina response.

President Obama seems incapable of finding anyone responsible (starting with himself) when things go wrong.

For example:

  • Operation Fast and Furious gun walking scandal - Nobody was fired, even though Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of congress
  • Spying on AP reporter phone calls - Nobody was fired
  • Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act - Cabinet secretaries are not allowed by law to make partisan speeches when acting in their official capacity. Nobody was fired 
  • IRS tea party profiling - Nobody was fired
  • Benghazi deception - Nobody was fired
  • Obamacare website fiasco - Nobody was fired
  • Veteran Affairs failure to provide life saving health care to veterans - Nobody was fired.
The problem is not just the quality of federal workers but also the quantity of federal workers.

Lincoln ran his White House with two secretaries. By the time Franklin Roosevelt was president, he had 100 White House employees to run a global war involving over 16 million Americans in the military.


With the population now about three times as much in the 1940s, you would expect the White House to have 300 employees, but it has over 1,700.  All of the federal government has grown bloated with out-of-control hiring.

Obama is incapable of firing anyone. He has missed his chance to make a bold step. Staunch anti-communist Richard Nixon opened relations with communist China. Old school liberal Bill Clinton signed the law to reduce excessive welfare. At a time when private industry and state and local governments learned to cut back workers to stay solvent, Obama has made no effort to cut fat and pork.

Real leaders make hard choices based on what is best. They don't whine. They don't pass the blame. They don't avoid responsibility.

How sad. It could have been a great legacy.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

(ME)morial Day


Every year on the last Monday of May we celebrate and honor the thousand of U.S. citizens who gave their lives in the defense of their country. For some of us that means visiting the grave of a loved one who died while serving in the military. However, for most of us (ME)morial Day is a day to having fun for ME. Our honored dead will not be water skiing, bike riding, going to an amusement park or having a BBQ. My wife's uncle served in the army during World War II. He never made it home and is buried in the Philippines.

I don't think these men or women would begrudge us enjoying the liberty and freedoms we enjoy that they died to defend. But they did not die for an America that all about ME and not more concerned with the good of the future. They sacrificed for the future and we should do the same.

Here is where we fall short.

  • Since 9/11 we have spent more than $1 trillion extra on military expenditures fighting two foreign wars. None of this money came from raising taxes or cutting back on other government spending. There was no war bond effort like there was during World War II. Basically, we've just spent more than a dozen years fighting a war and expect our children and grandchildren (never even born in 9/11) to pay for our defense -- with interest. The ME politicians and ME taxpayers want to use their own money for themselves and pass the bill to the next generation.
  • During the last two presidencies, we have refused to limit federal spending to federal revenues collected. Taxes collected are at an all time high and would easily cover the expenses from most budgets in the last decade, but government spending just grows and grows. Republicans pushed by the Tea Party are willing to tackle this issue, but President Obama and the Democrat controlled senate refuse to cut spending. Again the ME politicians put the $17 trillion short term desires of ME voters over the more important needs of the future of our nation.
  • The recent VA scandal shows an incompetent bureaucratic failure of public officials to provide veterans with promised benefits. My daughter's husband, an army officer, spent a year in Afghanistan. He could have left a widow and fatherless children. Fortunately he returned safely, but many did not, or returned with injuries. To not provide these veterans with needed medical attention is criminal. The ME bureaucrats valued their records more than the lives of veterans. 
Let's take the ME out of Memorial Day and do all we can to make the future better for the next generation, not one saddled with debt and unfulfilled promises.



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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Peanuts, Sugar, and STDs


Warning: May Contain or Had Contact with Peanuts

How many times a day do see this on a food label?

Peanuts are a big deal to the 1.3% of the population that are allergic to them. It is especially bad luck to the hundred or so people in our nation of over 300 million who die from anaphylaxis each year by eating peanuts.

To the powers that be, I say if we take such drastic steps to label billions of items with peanut warnings to benefit 4 million people and prevent 100 deaths a year -- shouldn't we also make labels that impact even more people and result in even more deaths?

I have two examples that impact just about everyone in the country, not just 1.3% of us.

First of all, have you ever noticed that nutrition labels display recommended daily percentages for fat, sodium, protein, and cholesterol, but not sugar?  There is some science debate on what a recommended daily amount of sugar should be, but the main reason this is not on the label is effective lobbying by the big food conglomerates who have found that sugar is a key ingredient to profitability.

It is no surprise that people love sugar and we consume much more sugar than prior generations. The last thing big food companies want is people looking on a label seeing how much sugar is in their food and how much it exceeds healthy limits. There are over 25 million people in our country with diabetes, representing about 8% of the population. Some experts project this could grow to over 30% of the population.

Recognizing and warning people about the hazards of excessive sugar consumption is many times more important and valuable to society than peanut labels. People should have the choice of deciding what they eat and drink, but they deserve to have the same information about sugar on nutrition labels that they already have for fat and other ingredients.

The other warning that is needed more than peanut labels is one like this:

Warning: Promiscuity can lead to chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, herpes, HIV, HPV, syphilis, infertility, abortions, fatherless children, emotional distress, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, and even death.

There have been recent actions by the White House raising the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. We don't have a major problem of women and men being attacked by strangers, it is sexual assault by people they know. It has received a lot of media attention including a Time magazine cover story.

In looking for a solution for this out-of-control situation, liberals overlook the best and safest solution to the problem. Conservatives recognize the old fashion rule of avoiding promiscuity altogether and that waiting for marriage is the best way to avoid all the problems that impact millions of people every year who ignore grandma's good advice. Living with the life changing negative results that come from embracing the sleep around, hook up culture is a bad move.

Perhaps we should make one more label for people that engage in such harmful behavior:

Warning: Nuts



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Monday, May 19, 2014

New Atheists Abandon Science


Recently, I came across an insightful quote sure to inflame many secularists who are priggishly superior to many Christian believers whom they regard as morons from the medieval ages.

¨The New Atheism is locked into a similar kind of literalism. It parasitically lives off its enemy. Just as evangelical Christianity is characterized by scriptural literalism and an uncomplicated belief in a ¨personal God,¨ so the New Atheism often seems engaged only in doing battle with scriptural literalism. The God of the New Atheism and the God of religious fundamentalism turn out to be remarkably similar entities.¨

The source of this quote is not from some C.S. Lewis style apologist, rather it is from James Wood, a Harvard professor and editor for The New Republic, pretty good credentials for a leftist viewpoint, but one that is unexpectedly honest.

Secularists would have you believe that you can accept science or you can accept religion, but you can't do both. They want to claim the position of science and reason as exclusively their own and spread the belief that anyone who believes in God is a kook because it goes against the findings of science.

Actually, what goes against the findings of science is closing off debate. Science should be after the quest for truth, but New Atheist secularists don't want to debate scientific findings that point to the possibility of a creator. This explains why they refuse to respond to challenges regarding intelligent design. Instead, they wrongly label intelligent design as creationism, or they say intelligent design is not science. What they don't do is respond to disturbing questions raised by ID proponents who have factually observed multiple weaknesses in the theory of evolution. (These questions are presented in an entertaining way in my play Inherit the Wind: Overturned by Design, also available on Nook and IBooks).

If science was really the secularist response to religion, than you would expect the overwhelming majority of scientist to reject religion because science has lead them to atheism. This is not the case.  Elaine Howard Ecklund's 2010 book, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think documents that nearly 20 percent of scientists attend church on a regular basis. Moreover, most scientists did not become irreligious based on their scientific findings, rather they were irreligious for nonscientific reasons.

In other words, people who are already atheists are attracted to careers in science and it is not science that made them atheists.

Secularists are not interested in using science to find the truth. Rather, too many of them are afraid of using science to learn that the existence of God may be possible.

Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century French scientist who formulated the theory of probability, is famously known for Pascal's Wager. His position is that it is more logical to believe in God than to reject him. This is because if you believe in God and you are wrong, you lose nothing from following God's commandments. However, if you reject God and his commandments and then find out that he does exist, then you end up eternally damned. Secularists are making a bad bet when they refuse to use science to probe for the existence of God.

Science and religion can be compatible. It makes sense that God would use the laws of science and that the more we advance science the more we will see the hand and mind of God.

For an interesting examination of the fallacies of the New Atheists, I recommend reading Why Science Does Not Disprove God, by Amir D. Aczel, an open-minded scientist who does not believe the New Atheists should get away with their secular agenda based misuse of science.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

The $18 Trillion Obama Monument


Last year the Washington Monument was reopened after being closed for repairs for the prior three years. The story of the Washington Monument is one of how American government once limited spending to available revenues.

Building the monument began in 1848, but was stopped six years later at the one-third level when no more funds were available to finish the construction. Construction resumed from 1879 to 1884 when funding was once again available.

The Washington Monument is not the only example of Americans only spending money that they have. The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States as a gift from France in 1876 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our independence. However, the gift did not come with the pedestal which America agreed we would pay for in accepting the gift. It took another 10 years for this to happen as building was postponed until the funds were raised to pay for the construction.

The Washington Monument was not built with borrowed funds. It was built when money was available to pay for it.

The Statue of Liberty was not built with borrowed funds. It was built when money was available to pay for it.

In comparison, for all the 21st century, the U.S. government has caused the national debt to grow from under 6 trillion to over $18 trillion. Compassionate conservative Republicans during George Bush's presidency and big spending Democrats during Barack Obama's presidency have made no serious attempt to control federal spending and rather than require tax payers to cover the cost of overspending, they have borrowed the money from future generations, something that has never been done to such a degree in the previous 200 years of American history.

Unfortunately, the legislators of both parties who have created this damaging debt, were elected by We the People. We get what we vote for. Until people grow up and demand that our leaders not spend money we don't have, nothing will change.

Our best option is to get as many Tea Party candidates elected as possible so we can have representatives who refuse to spend money now that will be paid for our children and grandchildren later.

Until that happens, the Obama Monument will be a hole in the ground deeper than the Washington Monument is tall.


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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Follow The Bear, Not The Tiger


During this time of year when men honor the mothers in their lives, the best way to do that is to be the best father you can be. Perhaps there is no greater contrast in how to do this than the choices made by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Before the ascendancy of Tiger Woods, the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, was overwhelmingly considered the greatest golfer of all time and he still holds this acclaim. During his PGA playing days, he won 95 golf tournaments including 18 of the highly prestigious Major golf tournaments. Until Tiger Woods came along, no won was even close to reaching this level of accomplishment.

So far in his professional golf career, Tiger Woods has won more golf tournaments (138) and up to 14 Majors by 2008. Since then he has gone five full years of golf tournaments without another Major win. He won six Majors in the previous five years. Since 2008 Woods has had to deal with different injuries but his performance has not been helped by the notoriety caused by surprising news of his serial adultery that became public knowledge in late 2009. Woods did not care how his bad behavior would affect his wife or his daughters. He was more concerned with his own needs both on and off the golf course. He has not been successful at breaking Nicklaus's record of Major wins, but he has been able to achieve a broken marriage and divorced fatherhood.

Jack Nicklaus could not be more different in his approach to golf and family life. Jack and his wife Barbara decided to make raising a family away from attention of fame their priority. Golf came second. When Jack was home, it was family time, not golf practice time. Nicklaus has now been married for more than 50 years and none of his five children have ended up like many children of the rich and famous with drug and alcohol problems, or other harmful lifestyle choices.

Nicklaus and his wife made a conscious decision that he would never be away from home more than 14 days in a row. When he was home the attention was on the kids, not Jack. Nicklaus liked this break from his golfing. He said it left him refreshed and better prepared to do well at his game.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the lives of these two accomplished men, it is that being focused on your career and your personal needs to the detriment of your wife and children has painful, negative consequences. Far better to give your family the attention they deserve and let your career benefit from the results.


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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Funny Mother's Day Songs


The Fiddling Ant would love to work as a parody lyricist, but that career doesn't pay very well unless your name is Al Yankovic or Tim Hawkins. So I write parody songs to amuse anyone who appreciates clever lyrics.

Over the past years I have written a number of parody songs in honor of Mother's Day. Here is a sample:

OUR MOM
to the tune of Gaston, from Disney's Beauty and the Beast

CHILD

Gosh it disturbs me to see you, dear mom,
Looking so down in the dumps.
Ev'ry kid here'd love to hug you, dear mom,
Even when taking our lumps.
There's no mom in town as admired as you,
You're ev'ryone's favorite gal;
Ev'ryone's awed and inspired by you,
And so we present this chorale.

No one's strict as our mom.
No one's quick as our mom.
And our blackheads are frequently picked by our mom.
For there's no mom in town half as momly,
Perfect, a pure paragon!
You can ask any Stan, Dick or Tomley,
And they'll tell you whose fam’ly they’d like to be on.

CHILD AND CHORUS

No one's nice like our mom,
Gives advice like our mom.

CHILD

No one guides and corrects as concise as our mom.

MOM

As a specimen, yes, I'm intimidating!

CHILD AND CHORUS

My what a gal, that’s our mom!
Give five "hurrahs!" Give twelve "hip-hips!"

CHILD

Our mom is the best,
And the rest is all drips.

CHORUS

No one’s bright as our mom,
Breaks up fights like our mom.

CHILD

In a screaming match nobody frights like our mom!

CHORUS

For there's no one as loving and caring.

MOM

As you see I've got patience to spare.

CHILD

Not a bit of her's grumpy or erring.

MOM

That's right!
And ev'ry last inch of me's perfect I swear.

CHORUS

No one cheers like our mom,
Cleans my ears like our mom.

CHILD

In a shouting match nobody hears like our mom.

MOM

I'm especially good at commiserating!
Poor dear!

CHORUS
Ten cheers for our mom!

MOM
When I was a girl,
I raised hens, goats and pigs,
Ev'ry morning to help me learn work.
And now that I'm grown,
I raise rambunctious kids,
So pipe down or I'll go berserk!

CHORUS

Oh, ahhh, wow!
My what a gal, that’s our mom!
No one cooks like our mom,
Reads us books like our mom.

CHILD

Then goes tromping around kicking butts like our mom!

MOM

I use Pint’rest in all of my decorating!

CHORUS

My what a gal, our mom!



Here are some other parody Mother's Day songs.


A parody of The Company Way from How to Succeed Without Really Trying. This is a fun duet for a couple of brothers. It shows how mom really runs the house.

A parody of A Policeman's Lot Is Not A Happy One from The Pirates of Penzance.

A parody of My Eyes are Fully Open from Ruddigore, a great Gilbert and Sullivan patter song.

A parody of There is Nothin' Like a Dame from South Pacific. A song with multiple parts for the whole family to take part in.



A parody of I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General from The Pirates of Penzance. Perhaps the best known patter song of all time.


For a complete list of Fiddling Ant parody songs, click here.


Have a Happy Mother's Day honoring the mothers in your life!


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Friday, May 2, 2014

Don't Blame Segregation


The May issue of the liberal iconic magazine The Atlantic has a major article on the return of segregation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The children at the nearly all black schools are getting a bad education. Is it the fault of racist school district policies, or is there another reason that liberals don't want to acknowledge?

The article details how schools that were on the path to integration in the 1970's and 1980's have regressed to divided schools that are predominately white or nearly completely black. The majority white schools are doing okay, but the predominately black schools have seen terrible results. The black schools had less experienced teachers and fewer Advanced Placement courses. A school superintendent said the black schools are a dumping ground for bad teachers. The reader is left with the idea that if only the schools went back to greater integration, everything would improve greatly.

The article completely misses the fact that much of the poor results of these schools can be blamed on a damaging home culture. Among blacks, the rate of births outside of marriage is over 70 percent. There is also a high percentage of teen pregnancies. Combined, we get a bunch of poorly educated single mother households with no positive father figure in the home. Isn't this a recipe for educational disaster?

The high school dropout rate of children from single parent homes is double that of children from two parent homes. Even if the student does not drop out, he or she is going to do worse in school. Single parent households earn half the income as two parent homes. A single mom may be working two or more jobs and does not have the time and often does not have the skills to help her children improve their reading and math abilities. The role model at home of not completing school or not valuing post high school education contributes to underachievement at school.

Being raised by a single mom does not doom a child to a life of poverty. The famous brain surgeon Ben Carson was raised by a single mother who married in her teens and could not read, but she made her sons read two books a week and give her a report. She also insisted that they attend church each week. The Carson boys had cultural values missing in most poor households.

The recent best seller, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America by insecurity about one's standing, and impulse control. It has nothing to do with poverty, school location, or racism. Many people have succeed in life by embracing and following this traits combination.



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