Thursday, August 21, 2008

General Political Musings

I for one have been worried about this country's direction for a long time. I didn't like any of the presidential candidates before the vetting process started, I really don't like the two that are left. When I was in the service, one of our self applied monikers was Uncle Sam's Confused Group; i.e. U.S. Coast Guard. I think that same moniker can be applied to the entire country today. Democrats and Republicans are not who they once were, we have no choice in our candidates because they both believe in illegal immigration. The Supreme Court no longer interprets law, they make it!

The constitution in my opinion was meant to be a concrete document against which the Supreme Court would apply their knowledge of the constitution to render a decision in a case. Yet most people seem to think it should be a "living" document and it should be changed at the whim of congress. That action would destroy the greatest democracy (constitutional republic) the world has ever seen.

I marvel at the terrible educational system in this country. I went to prep school in the 60's and college in the 70's. I loved the learning process. I talk to younger people today and I am horrified about how little they know about our government. It is difficult to hold a meaningful conversation with the younger crowd who think of the Viet Nam war as history when I lived through it. They don't know a unicameral body of legislators as opposed to a bicameral legislature. Separation of powers, three branches of the government. Very few young people get it these days.

Here's another one for you! Much is made over the concept of "A wall of separation between Church and state" in the constitution. But if you do your research, you'll discover that the phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Danbury congregation. The next reference is by Justice Hugo Black in 1947 when he wrote the dissenting opinion in a court case (Everson vs. Board of Education) in which he referred to Jefferesons letter.

It is this case that everyone refers to when they wax poetic about the Constitution being the source of the "wall of separation. In reality, all the constiution guarantees you is the right to worship whichever religion you choose, nothing else. The Ten Commandments are one of the oldest codes of law aside from Hammurabi's Code. They used to be in a lot of court rooms. Now, extremists say it is a violation of church and state when in reality it is simply showing respect for one of the earliest forms of codified law.

I'm also concerned about the recent Supreme Court decision in which they interpret the 2nd ammendment as each individual having the right to keep and bear arms irrespective of a "well regulated militia." I personally think that's wrong. Just what we need, more guns on the street; think Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc.

I don't know really where I'm going with this except that I am upset at the direction the USA is going. We need to turn it around. The nation is polarized, no one cares about anything but themselves, we keep reducing the size of our Armed Forces but don't shrink our obligations in response, etc.
I wish I could be an absolute dictator over the USA for 6 months, I'd straighten it out in a heart's beat. Let's see, the prez would get one 6 year term, Senators 2 and Reps no more than 6. I'd abolish capital punishment and substitute life without parole. I'd abolish all forms of lobbying with severe penalties for engaging in lobbying activities. I'd end all subsidies, I'd get rid of earmarks and introduce the line item veto.

We need to drill for oil AND look for alternatives simultaneously. I can't stand the fact that certain elements of the society are holding us hostage and actually want us to be in debt to the OPEC nations. What kind of idiots are they?? Especially when ANWR has an area already set aside for drilling. All it is is congressional enmity and angst. They are playing stupid childish games with their country's future and it really bothers me.

OK rant turned off!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Getting into Horatio Hornblower All Over Again !!

Note: Obtained from Wikipedia. See below for fair use clause.

Decades ago, as a kid I read a Horatio Hornblower novel and really liked it. Then about 20 years ago, I stumbled across a motion picture starring Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo which combined three Hornblower novels. Hornblower's saga starts out with him as a midshipman in the Royal Navy.

About two years ago, I discovered that HH was on Public Television and bought the series. It made me realize that there were a lot more books about him out there than I originally thought. So I went on a quest and bought all 11 novels by C.S. Forester and the Horatio Hornblower compendium also by the original author as well. I was doing very well reading the novels in their proper order until I recently went on Vacation to Rosehaven, Maryland. I had three novels to go and somehow picked the wrong one so I'm reading three Hornblowers simultaneously because they are scattered hither and yon. So right now, I'm reading Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower and Admiral Hornblower depending on what section of the house I'm in at the time.

They really are great books. C.S. Forester is terrific at describing life at sea. He really knows his stuff. The nomenclature, navigational and sailing terms are right on. The photograph above is Gregory Peck as Horatio Hornblower in a 1951 Movie of the same name which I am using under the fair use doctrine as an aide in describing the film. It is primarily from the book "Beat To Quarters" but there are elements of two other books in the movie as well. I highly recommend it for a good yarn. This film most certainly can be credited with increasing my interest in this really great fictional character.

By the way, C.S. Forester wrote a book entitled "The Captain From Connecticut" which is also very good. Its from the American perspective during the same time period. The story revolves around a fictional 44 gun fast frigate; hint, hint....just like the USS Constitution that evades a Britsh Blockade squadron off the coast of Long Island. I found it very entertaining. Too bad, he only wrote one from the U.S. perspective.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Maryland Western Shore

Just came back from a mini-vacation in Maryland on the Western Shore. Stayed at the Herrington Harbour Inn in Herrington Marina at Rose Haven. Had a great relaxing time. Visited the Calvert County Maritime Museum, soaked in the sun on the beach, did some antiquing in two small towns Chesapeake and North Beach.

I have a friend, Rich C. from the area and he took us to some of the eateries that the locals frequent. Great food is to be had. The pulled pork sandwiches at a place called the "Cafe" in Deale were delicious. Another place called Petes had the best New York Strip steak, I've had in ages.

One of the best parts of the vacation was watching all the kids play on the beach and when they got cranky, they're parents had to deal with them. So we could enjoy their frivolity and let the parents deal with the aftermath.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Nice Vacation Kicked Off................

by seeing my grandson Liam baptized this Sunday then afterwards we went to his birthday party. It was a blast, I held him for quite a while and he found all sorts of things on Grandpa interesting, he grabbed for my pen, fiddled with my shirt-buttons, pulled the hair on my chest, tried to poke out my eyes and last but not least tried to pick my nose. :-) very active little kid, I would say.

On Monday his parents wanted some time to themselves so we did our first babysitting stint for Liam. Boy can he talk........or at least verbalize might be a better world. He's a funny kid but he can wear you out. We took a bunch of photos of him with my new camera..

Tonight we'll be hosting a dinner for the close relatives because Liam and parents are flying back to Washington state tomorrow and our vacation will continue with a long weekend in Maryland on the western shore.

Should be fun.