Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer
They sent me here just to watch...

Friday, April 7, 2017

If only for a moment...

For a brief moment last night, the mainstream media became the press again.  They just reported the news as the United States launched missiles against a Syrian Air Base.  I am certain that they have returned to the current model of 1% news and 99% ever-so-slanted commentary, but it was refreshing to see reporters reporting again and the press being the press, if only for a moment.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Where have my good friends Reason and a Sound Mind gone?

The qualities of reason and sound mind have left the country.  I would get out too if I knew what they did.  The sad thing is that I do know.

Our courts—United States of America courts—will be or perhaps are entertaining arguments about who has constitutional rights; specifically, do you even have to reside in the country to have right guaranteed under our constitution.  Many who live here and are not citizens have constitutional rights.  Whether that was the founder’s intent or not, the courts have said that they do.

But what about someone who is not a citizen and has never been to this nation—do they have constitutional rights?  On its face, it seems crazy, but the courts have ventured far beyond their legitimate domain in their recent findings concerning immigration and national security, so what’s a little more craziness on top of that?

Does someone in Afghanistan or western Kenya who would like to come to the United States have constitutional rights under the supreme law of our land?  Do two Ukrainian soldiers who get in a bar fight over the quality of the vodka have the right against self-incrimination and should we get them a court appointed lawyer if they can’t afford one?

I am trying hard to be facetious, but at this moment some attorney full of vigor but short of standing and legitimate argument is adding my last paragraph to his brief.  We have come to the brink of insanity and insanity—desiring to retain some dignity—will have nothing to do with us.
This is the question that I pose to those desiring to grant constitutional rights to anyone and everyone on the planet:

Why do you believe that a child still in the mother’s womb has no constitutional rights?  Is the membrane between the mother’s body and the world that awaits so much more substantial that an international boundary? 

It seems that somebody has already built a 30 foot wall but it is not on the Mexican border.

How can we consider it constitutional to kill a child that is 9 months old, within hours of delivery, because it has not entered the air breathing world in which we exist?

How can someone on the other side of the planet who made have only heard of America have rights that a child so close to delivery does not have?

Who has deported my good friends Reason, Sanity, and a Sound Mind?

May God have mercy upon us!

How I long for the days of the test pattern

The mute button on my television remote is almost worn out, and it is the most important among the dozens of functions that this small device performs.  Do we realize how far from any standard of reasonableness we have come in this country?  I speak now of the rush to condemn certain actions.

Bad things happen in this world.  Evil is still at work.  People do terrible things, but does the President of the United States really have to comment on all of them?  Why can’t the people of this nation be outraged enough at a desecration of something sacred without the help of the chief executive.  Instead of counting the minutes between the event and the eventual statement, could we not use our time and efforts to lend some support to the victims.  Perhaps we could have organized protests against the offenders, even if we have yet to find them.  That would at least satisfy our propensity to protest things that portend whatever doomsday the protesters see on the horizon.

Perhaps the real news is not how long was it before the President said something official and talking heads analyzed its sufficiency; but the real news is what is happening to catch the offenders?  Silly me—who wants to follow that story?  Who is helping with restoration?  Sorry, that will not pay the empaneled bank of consultants.  How can the common person who wants to be something other than outraged, actually do something to help?  C’mon, that’s a link on the website, not news. Who is already doing something to help that deserves some recognition?  That surely won’t satisfy our appetite for criticism.

The 24-hour news cycle has created an epidemic of diarrhea of the mouth.  There are no new facts or tangible information going into the system but there is no slowdown on the outward flow of blarney.                                                                                                                        
For now, it’s just the mute button.  My next step will be to identify the sponsors of these broadcasts and boycott their products, and encourage others to do so.  I hope I do not have to write the eulogy for the press that once understood its privileged standing in this nation.  I am optimistic but not blind.  We as a nation crave blame and vitriol more than truth.  The media is simply our drug dealer.

How I long for that bygone day that when there was nothing more of substance to say, you stopped talking.  You stopped talking!  This small nugget of wisdom has surely been expunged from the journalism schools of our land.

Oh, how I long for the days of the test pattern that pronounced with certainty and even a little dignity that programming was completed for this day.

May God have mercy on our judgmental and cynical souls.  Heal us!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Darkness has come to America and we have embraced it.

Darkness has come to America and we have embraced it.  It is not Donald Trump.  It is not the protests that seem to pop up everywhere in response to everything.  It is not the media trying to fill a 24 hour a day news broadcast by manufacturing news out of nuance.

It is the people of this nation that have invited darkness into their lives.

We have stopped conversing with each other.  Now we only target those that disagree with us and demonize them.  We no longer discuss the issues.  There are surely conversations to be had on defense and immigration and education and so many other issues; but nobody cares to engage the issues.  We muster a minority of the facts then just take cheap shots at those whose thoughts differ from our own. 

We fear discussion.  We have lost the ability to listen to each other.  We respect neither the high offices of our officials nor our peers who elected them nor those who hoped that others might prevail.

We have become a small-minded people.  That does not mean we lack intelligence.  We lack the wisdom to use our intelligence to advance our nation and our culture and the common good to a better place.  We have chosen extreme divisiveness over the divine application of our diversity.

In the process, we have placed our liberty at risk.  Self-government is work, not complaining and demonizing those who disagree, but finding ways to do things that work for the common good. 

The pendulum of politics swings left and right.  The wise see this and know that balance is not something that exists at any given time, but over time.  The foolish can see only the moment before them and rail against any and everything that they don’t like.

In this distrust of a system of government that has not only prevailed for over two centuries but done so continuing the blessings of liberty, we set the stage for self-destruction.  In this ubiquitous demonizing of individuals who hold different perspectives of how to continue this Grand Experiment, we accelerate the demise of our democratic republic.

I for one am not ready to discard what our founders embraced so dearly and until this current century, we as Americans preserved as part of our patriotic duty.  The time to set aside acrimony and vitriol is now.  Bitterness and hatred towards our elected officials must end.  The civil and patriotic way to object is the ballot box and we must honor the result of our peaceful transition of power or know that we are destined to lose it altogether. 

For decades, we were light unto the world.  Now we embrace darkness.  Give those elected a chance to do what they said they would do even if their approaches are different.  Stop demonizing each other because we disagree.  Civil discourse must prevail among the millions of Americans who are blessed to live in the liberty that we know.

So many around the world look to us as the example of how to live in a free society.  We as the people of this great nation are setting a terrible example for those in the rest of the world that only dream of liberty.  We must once again be a light to this world.

Let us set aside our selfishness, our self-pity, and our childish behavior and model civil discourse.  Let us respect each other again though we may differ in almost every thought or philosophy.  Let’s be the American people that we want our grandchildren to model their lives after.

Let us live lives of light and not darkness!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

240 Years of Experience, Not a single year of wisdom

We have 240 years of experience and not even 1 year of wisdom.  We should be celebrating that our Grand Experiment that we call the United States of America has once again survived.  Power will transition by the vote and civility not by bullets and bayonets; yet so many seek divisiveness even after the election.

Elections and campaigns are tough, demanding much from the candidates and the electorate.  Sometimes the dialogue dies and only demonizing exchanges of vitriol and acrimony remain in the final days before votes are cast.  But in decades past, Americans set aside their pettiness and supported whomever was elected, charging them to do what is best for this great nation.  Our differences could take a back seat to our patriotism and we could give those elected to office a chance to do right by the longstanding process that elected them.

The election just accomplished is not far off from the one on the horizon.  Wisdom beckons us to give those elected a chance to do right by the people and the Constitution and by almighty God.  Can we not open our eyes and see that many have won and lost in the past, to include many contests noted by nobility and others by mud wrestling, but a victor emerged and the country transitioned power.

I have embraced some elected officials, tolerated others, and was just outright unhappy over some elections that didn’t come out according to my view of the best for American; but my loyalty to this great nation demanded that I give those elected a chance to do the best that they could.

That meant praying for them instead of demeaning them.  That meant corresponding with them instead of taking public potshots at them.  That meant exercising wisdom over vitriol and patriotism over selfishness.  I plan to stay that course.  I ask that you join me.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Scouts and Students Kick Off Fall Food Drives

Saturday, 12 November 2016.  Gathering at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning may be a challenge for some but not for all.  Over two dozen students gathered with a few adults at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Burns Flat to go out into the community to collect food to begin the fall food drives.  This event was sponsored by Scout Troop 310 but truly was a community event because of the student involvement.

In less than two hours, food was collected, checked for expiration dates, and sorted by type.  Food drives at Will Rogers Elementary and the BFDC High School typically add to this so that the needs of those who might otherwise go without are met.  Participation of the students not only made the tasks of the morning go quickly, it is also training in service and helps to promote compassion in the generations to come.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A tide in the affairs of men

In Act IV, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there is a dialogue between Brutus and Cassius about whether to attack or defend.  The safe course is to defend and cause the enemy to expend his forces in greater number than the defender.

But the only chance of victory is to advance when everything is in place.  The only chance of achieving great things is not to hesitate when the time is right.  This did not work out for either of the two men conversing in the play or on the actual plains near Philippi.

Octavian, better known in the Christian world as Caesar Augustus, would be the ultimate winner of the 4 men contending to succeed Julius Caesar as Emperor of Rome.  But consider now the words of Brutus as penned by Shakespeare before the battle near Philippi.

Under your pardon. You must note beside,
That we have tried the utmost of our friends,
Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe.
The enemy increaseth every day.
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.

The cause failed.  Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius, then Octavian subsequently defeated Antony.  Causes fail, battles are lost, men die.

But how many have died never trying?  How many people go to their graves having never given a great cause a chance.

Today, we are on the verge of taking a chance.  We have a new president elect.  We have the current establishment pledged to a professional transition.  We have the best opportunity that this nation has had in many decades to bring back what I can only characterize as the pioneer spirit.

We as a nation once had a hardiness to us.  We expected struggles in our lives.  We sought to overcome them.  We moved west to conquer the wilderness.

Now so many seek to see what they can get for nothing.  They pour out vitriol online.  They demonize those who oppose them, which we understand somewhat in the middle of the fight; but now that this round is over, it is time to heal, support the victor for a time, and accomplish what can be done in a political system not designed for efficiency but to make difficult the accumulation of power in a single man or group.

But there is a tide in the affairs of men when things must be accomplished for inaction surrenders to mediocrity.

There is a tide in the affairs of men and high tide is almost here.  Our elected officials who have done little but demean the offices to which they were elected to serve the people, must set aside pettiness and do the work of a statesman.  They must serve those who sent them to represent us all.  They must reject personal interest and embrace the attitude of a servant.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.  Get the protests and bickering out of your system now.  Embrace that change has come.  Consider that most democracies do not survive beyond 200 years.  Understand that the republican nature of our democratic desires keeps us afloat beyond the historical model.  But know that our liberty and our hope diminish in continued acrimony. 

There is a tide in the affairs of men.  It is time to move beyond our state of divisiveness to a time of unity and action. 

To all who have been elected to serve, now is the time to truly serve your nation.  Put aside selfish differences and do what is best for America.  Your children’s children have placed their futures in your hands.

Be faithful to God and this fantastic idea that we know as America.  Do not hesitate to do the right things for this is the right time.