(1) I’m not sure what would make me believe that our elected panjandrums have our best interests at heart in the current debate over “health care reform.” I will admit, however, that were their lords and ladyships to extend to us plebians the same medical benefits they receive or, failing that, subject themselves to whatever they’re proposing for us, I’d at least give them the benefit of the doubt.
Failing that, however, to my mind the lot of them will remain best described by Mark Twain: “America is a nation without a distinct criminal class...with the possible exception of Congress."
(2) If you’ve been following the news, you’ll know that retired Colonel Van Barfoot, 90, of Henrico County, Virginia, recently afoul of his local homeowners association. Said association had denied his request to have a flagpole on his property in order to fly the flag each day as he wished to do. Despite their denying his request, he installed one anyway and the association ordered him to remove the flagpole or face “legal action.”
Mr. Barfoot won the Medal of Honor in WWII and later fought in both Korea and Viet Nam. His native state of Mississippi has named a portion of a highway after him and there’s a building at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia with his name on it.
Anyway, the story got out and things started happening. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called the association’s actions “silly,” and Virginia’s two senators, its governor, veterans organizations, and individuals from around the country all took sides with Mr. Barfoot. Basically, they all said: “What the heck are you folks thinking? If a Medal of Honor winner wants to have a flagpole on his property, he’s darned well earned that privilege.”
My thought was that someone should’ve done a search to see if any or all of the members of the association were descendants of General George Armstrong Custer - an individual who also failed to recognize a battle that should’ve been avoided.
Finally, however, the members of a homeowners association woke up, smelled the coffee, and dropped the whole matter.
In a word: “Duh!”
(3) In the arena of global warming, the recent release of a load of e-mails that went back and forth between proponents of the idea sure didn’t paint them as objective and dispassionate researchers working toward conclusions that could stand the heat of rigorous debate. Rather, those e-mails sure made it appear that a lot of fudging was going on and that any dissenting opinions needed to be squelched.
A good thing for these scientists to remember is that you don’t inspire a lot of trust and confidence in your ideas when your correspondence appears to indicate that you’re attempting to obfuscate rather than illuminate.
(4) It’s Christmas and I’ve already had one of those moments I hate having.
The other night, as I was leaving my local Albertson’s, I was approached by a young lady talking a mile a minute about a problem she was having.
Her story was she’d locked herself out of her car and needed money to get a locksmith to come unlock her car. I was debating whether to fork over some cash, but there was no eye contact the whole time, her words were tumbling over each other, and the whole thing smelled like a scam. I guess you had to be there to have a feel for the situation.
Anyway, I politely declined and left feeling vaguely like a scrooge.
The next evening, I was running another errand at Albertson’s and here she comes again. This time the story (same lack of eye contact and jumble of words) was that she needed money for a motel room for the night.
When I asked if she remembered me from the previous evening when her story was about needing a locksmth, she did an immediate about face and almost ran to the next parking lane.
My belief is still that any money I’d have given her would’ve gone toward something I don’t want to support but, regardless, I again felt like a scrooge.
My answer to this is that the next time I see a Salvation Army kettle, I’m going to make a contribution. That’ll take care of two things. I’ll feel a bit better about myself and I’ll know that the money will, indeed, be well used.
And that, I think, is about the best one can hope for.