Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Commentary by Ben Stein

Gone, are the day's of rational behavior!

Where does the voice of reason reside?

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

 My confession:

 I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat...

 Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

 In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

 In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school... The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK

 Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about.. And we said okay..

 Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

 Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

 Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

 Are you laughing yet?

 Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

 Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

 Pass it on if you think it has merit.

 If not, then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

 My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

 Ben Stein

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Thoughts

My Grandfather left Ireland for America at the age of sixteen.  He was born and raised on a peninsula jutting out into the North Sea.  Under constant barrage of Atlantic gales and Arctic ice storms.  At first glance it's a harsh unforgiving land, where it seems nothing could survive.

   Trees are scarce due to the relentless winds.  Thistle, and Whay with thorns the size of ten penny nails grow in the only fertile soil available.  Heather clings to life in the cracks of rocks that have been there since the beginning of time.  A land where there were no fields, only bed rock.  The people would clear the smaller stones to use as fences, and the larger ones for building, houses, sheds and barns.  

   They would bring seaweed and sand up from the shore to compost and spread out on the bedrock to create their own soil to grow the food they needed.  Every day families would walk to the sea to gather the seaweed and sand, into wicker baskets loaded onto donkey carts and transport it miles away to make the fields.

   This endeavor was the first thing that came to mind when I first heard Republicans in America use the term "We built this".  So I immediately called bull shit on this farce.  Try making dirt from rock, and then I'll listen to what you have to say.

   My Grandfather came from a world where his religion was illegal, his culture, music, songs and art were forbidden and speaking his native tongue was punishable by death.  In fact decades later far from British spies, when he would speak Irish, he did so in hushed tones as if someone might overhear.  So at the age of sixteen with no more than a fifth grade education he decided to leave his home and all that he new for a chance at a better life.  

   He arrived at Ellis Island with two of his brothers, however Pat had contracted influenza and was not permitted into the U.S.  Pat was given the choice to go to Canada.  Being British citizens they were granted access due to the fact that Canada was a subject of the Crown.  Pat could not have made the trip to Canada alone, so John decided to go with him.  After saying their goodbyes my Grandfather entered New York City.  Uneducated, sixteen, and alone.  

   My Grandfather told me that the first words spoken to him by an American as he stepped off the ferry from Ellis Island to New York were "Another talking monkey".  He had arrived in a land where there were signs in every window stating "we don't hire Irish" "we don't rent to Irish" and "Irish go home".  He had left a land that hated him, traveled thousands of miles, weeks at sea to arrive in a land that hated him just as much.

    The Irish have a way of looking out for each other, so he was able to find some work here and there, but nothing steady.  Just when things were at there worst, help came from an unexpected place.  A man he new as a sworn enemy in the old country told him of work in Philadelphia.  My Grandfather new this man, had grown up with him, but the two never spoke a word to each other until now.  There's was a family feud that went so far back no one could remember how it started.

   So these two men, who at one time would have literally killed each other in the name of family honor, made there way to Philadelphia and formed a friendship that would last a life time and eventually join our two families.   When you are alone, with the entire world against you, a life time of hatred can be forgotten very quickly.  

   As you may have noticed, my Grandfather was a larger than life figure to me.  But he was by no means perfect.  The time in which he lived, and the manner in which he was treated by the people in the Countries he called home, had left him a bigoted man.  He may have been able to over come this if it weren't for his limited education, and impressionable age.  I am not making excuses, only pointing out his circumstances.

   His individual beliefs and the rules he set for his house, were not the same as what he showed the public.  Some may call this two faced, but I would disagree.  What happened to him throughout his life only served to strengthen his belief that we all deserve to be treated as equals, and that we all came here to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit.

   In many ways he was a reflection of America it self.  No matter our individual needs and wants we respect the fact that our Government is a higher moral standard, and set our own goals to meet that.  We may not believe in Civil Rights or same sex marriage, but we aspire to accept them, thanks to that standard.

   I have always admired my Grandfather for that.  Let me put it this way.  Is it easier to accept the lifestyles of those different from you, when you are not prejudice or when you are prejudice.  Yes my Grandfather was prejudice, but he strove, sometimes successfully sometimes not, to accept people who were different than him, but he always treated them as equals.  And that, in my opinion is admirable.

   So yes he is a larger than life figure to me.  He is the yard stick by which I measure my own life.  I am proud to say that in many ways I have surpassed my Grandfather, but in some ways I've never measured up.

   I believe for the most part I've overcome prejudice and bigotry, but that is something that can only be measured by others and not oneself.  But I am not as strong as he was.  I never heard him complain.  Not once.   I remember him driving me and my Grandmother home from the Market, and we got a flat tire.  Without some much as disappointed look he simply pulled the car over and changed the tire.

   When he was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, he took it in stride, never uttering a word.  After the brutal and invasive surgery to remove it, I watched him climb the stairs to his bedroom where he stayed for two weeks.  Fifteen minutes it took him to climb twelve stairs.  Not a single grunt, groan, or moan.  Not even a Huff as he stopped to gather his strength for the next step.

    This isn't an excuse for bigotry, rather it's a condemnation of it.  If a man born into the worst form of poverty and raised to know only hatred, can struggle his entire life to rid himself of it, then what excuse do the people who embrace it have?  What justification can intelligent, educated people born into wealth possibly have to welcome prejudice into their hearts?  No, there is no excuse.

   It's very simple.  In order to save our society, we must be tolerant of everything but intolerance.  


Monday, November 19, 2012


The first time I visited my family in Ireland, my cousin took me to a harsh and rugged piece of land that didn't seem capable of supporting human life . It was the home of my Grandfather, or at least the area where he was born and raised, and it was the most beautiful vista I had ever laid eyes on.

   It was both inhospitable and magnificent.  I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of gorgeous vistas, but none compared to that one.  My cousin then ask me, "Billy, did you ever imagine that you would be standing right here where it all started for us"?  He said "this is the land where all McLaughlins came from.  This is where our blood line goes back to a time even before last names were used".  I was so moved that I didn't realize I was speaking, and was surprised when I heard the word "No" come out of my mouth.

    I guess this snapped me out of what ever shock I was in, because I began to tell him I never expected to be anywhere.  I never thought in a million years I would have what I have, a home, a family, anything.  I always thought I would grow up and live on the same street, in the same city I was born in.  I never expected to have a wonderful wife, three amazing children, and a bevy of beautiful grandchildren.

   Our home is no Palace by any means but it is my Castle, and that's enough for me.  But that's what can happen in America. At least the America I grew up in.  A boy with very little education, no connections, and even less money can make a place for himself.  This is probably the main thing that separates us from the rest of the world.  It can not be done without work and for that we need jobs. Good jobs, with good benefits and the chance for advancement.

   This is something we are sorely lacking now a days.  This is why my Grandfather came to America.  When I was in Ireland, I walked along an old path that lead from the sea to the main town.  The English paid my Grandfather to take stones from the pebble beach and spread them out on that path, paving the road all the way to town.  Every day he would shovel stones into a 4 foot by 4 foot donkey cart and shovel it back out onto the path. And when he was done it needed replenishing, and he would start all over.  If he missed a day, he would be replaced, and lose that job.

    I look at Companies in America today and I see the same mentality my Grandfather wished to escape.  My Grandfather grew up in a world where his religion, culture and language were illegal, and work was a privilege, so you'd better be grateful for what you got.

    Congratulations Corporate America, you have guided us directly onto the path that caused the collapse of the British Empire.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Right to Complain

   I can not believe the level of hatred and bigotry in this country.  While reading the business and economic news from various periodicals, I also look through the comments section per chance to find an intelligent and viable idea on how we as a Nation might proceed, to fix our woes and spur growth to create jobs.  Which are desperately needed.

   I usually find the same old blame game with some bright ideas sprinkled here and there.  But lately it's all been acrid slander spilling onto the page before me as if everybody at the party decided to vomit all at the same time.

   When did we become a Nation of complainers?  I understand the value of complaining.  Everyone needs something to complain about.  It's the natural order of things.  It helps to relieve stress when we're frustrated, angry and sometimes it's even helpful when we are bored.  You know, spices things up a bit.  But this is getting out of  control.  It's all the time.  Everyone is complaining and no one is doing anything about it.
There has to be a balance.  And the tone of complaining is astounding.  Vile, irreverent hatred coming from everywhere.

   It's often said that we have a right to complain.  If no one complained, we never would have had the American Revolution.  But to complain without action is fruitless.  By action I mean positive progressive steps forward.  Not holding our breath, stomping our feet, or even worse, do what ever it takes to get our way no matter who gets hurt.  Because I'm here to tell you,  complaining combined with negative hurtful actions is a cocktail for disaster.  I've seen the results of that for myself.  We all have.

   In the early hours of September 11th 2001 some 3000 people died in an hour and forty five minutes because of such a cocktail of closed minded hatred and selfishness.  Think about that for a minute.  1 hour and 45 minutes.  3000 mothers, fathers, sons  daughters, aunts, uncles, soldiers  firefighters, police, CEO's accountants, and janitors, gone.  For what?

   So we can cry about having to pay higher taxes?  So we can whine about who the real Americans are?  Did hundreds of thousands of families have their lives irrevocably changed so we could blame each other incessantly?

   We should be ashamed of ourselves.  If we as Americans were watching another country go through this we'd be disgusted and appalled at such childish behavior.  We should be honoring those men and women, as well as the military personnel who are fighting for us, and the ones that paid the ultimate price.

   We should be showing them that America is worth saving.  But instead we threaten Revolution and secession.  Running away from a problem never solved anything.  Working together will solve them all.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

   6,636 American Troops have given their all in Afghanistan and Iraq, 50,000 have been injured, 10's of thousands suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Even though winding down, experts at the Pentagon anticipate more casualties before it is all over.

   Delaware alone has lost 20 of our men and women, never to return to their families.  Not a large number when compared to the National totals I mentioned.  It may not even seem comparable to other States like California who gave 702 souls.

   But it is a significant number when you realize that day's before these brave men and  women set off to answer their Countries call, they were little more than children. Most fresh out of High School, where their biggest worries, no matter how important to them at the time, were nothing compared to the what they were about to face.

   I won't pretend to know what it must feel like for a parent to lose his or her child.  Nor can I fully imagine such a thing.  I do know that the thought of being told that very thing, haunted me for three years, until receiving news that my son was being separated from the Air Force, and that he was coming home.

   As with most of the events in my life, I considered myself very lucky.  My son is home, married and has given me and my wife two beautiful grandchildren.

  Twenty from Delaware are not home. Some of those leave children to grow up never knowing them.  Some haven't had the chance to have children.  But they all leave behind people, who loved them unconditionally.  And a grateful Nation.

   Let's honor the memory of those Brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, by putting aside our political differences and call on our Representatives in Congress and the Senate to give returning Vets the Medical care they need to deal with the problems they will face ahead.   The effort to make a phone call or e-mail to your Representative is minuscule compared to the efforts of our Veterans.





Saturday, November 10, 2012

Divided We Fall

   There has been a lot of talk coming from Conservatives, GOP and Tea Party members about secession from the rest of the the Country. Blaming President Obama's win at the polls.  There seems to be a lot of hatred in this Country, for really no reason at all.  Certainly not any reason that can't be talked through and worked out.

   Some GOP Treasurer in Texas said the people who voted for Obama were maggots, Ted Nugent  referred to his fellow Americans as Pimps and Donald Trump called for a Revolution.  Seems he wants to march on Washington and take the Nation back by force.  That seems petulant to me, in fact it all seems petulant and childish to me.  And counter productive.  They are basically running away from their problems.

   I would have great difficulty voting for someone who runs at the first taste of defeat.  I don't recall anyone threatening Insurrection when George Bush Bankrupted America sending us spiraling into our worst Recession yet.  Nobody called Bush voters Pimps, or Maggots when he refused to invest in America, saying we are not Nation builders, all the while sending millions of dollars to build the Iraqi Nation.

   I'm not bitter about being temporarily laid off, or watching loved ones lose almost everything.  I'm even over the fact that I had to watch the quality of life of people I care deeply for drop to sub standard living.  One of the Tea Party denigration's called Obama voters "Cowards".

   Well that can't possibly be true because we are not running.  We didn't run four years ago, we didn't run eight years ago.  In fact we never ran, never threatened to run or secede.  We never called people names, belittled or bullied them in anyway.  In fact over the years we have behaved in the exact opposite manner in which we now find ourselves accused.

   And still we offer an olive branch, still we ask for our elected officials regardless of political affiliation, to fix this great Nation of ours.  This Proud Nation that we all love, that we have all Pledged our Allegiance to.

   We simply want to work for a decent wage.  Support our families, and have a quality of life that will ensure our well being.  Is having the right to marry the love of our lives to much to ask?  Is it cowardice to ask for the same pay as someone of the opposite sex?  Does having the means to support ourselves to a ripe old age make us maggots?  No, these things the GOP and Tea Party refer to, don't apply to us, they apply to them.

    Someone once said that what we fear the most, lies within ourselves.  I have always believed that in order to overcome your fears, you must confront them.  I don't know if that is true or not, but it might be as good a place to start as any.