Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

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

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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I don't know anyone who voted for Donald Trump today

It is the 8th of November 2016 and I don’t know anyone who voted for Donald Trump.  I suspect that I won’t find anyone if I look the rest of the day or the week or the month or the year.
I don’t know anyone who voted for Obama in 2008 or 2012.  Seriously, I don’t know a single person who voted for him.  When I think back on it, I don’t know anyone that voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 or 1996 either.  I know some people who voted for him for governor, but not for president.
Put aside your partisan politics for a moment and consider this.  Most people in the United States do not remember who they voted for in the last Presidential Election.  I don't remember and I suspect that you don't either.  So you think I'm nuts do you?  Well that may be true, but I'm certain of my facts.
 I also have it on good authority that fewer than 600 people voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, and even with his mandate in 1996, there were fewer than 538 that voted for him that year.  I'm not getting these figures from some straw poll I conducted in downtown Burns Flat, America--though that is both the cultural and political center of this great republic (OK, that last part is only opinion, but the rest of this article is fact).  Being the only Republican from a family of Democrats, I often am not taken seriously when I tell them that I have never met anyone that voted for Clinton.  Still don't believe me?  So you want answers?  You want the truth?  You can't handle the truth.  In 1992, only 370 people voted for Clinton.  In 1996, only 379 people voted for him, but sure enough that's him in the oval office. 
 Want to know more?  The real election for president didn't occur until December in 1992 and in 1996.  We have narrowed it down to 538 people that could have voted for Clinton in 1996--and you thought we conducted elections by secret ballot.  Actually, the people that elected our current president even signed their names to their ballot and your government knows who they are.    You say that 538 number sounds familiar, but you can't quite place it.  It's got nothing to do with the grassy knoll or the number of times that your Microsoft operated computer shuts down each day due to an illegal operation.  That's right it's the total number of Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress, but they don't elect the president.  In fact, they are not even permitted to vote for the president.   So is this coincidence or conspiracy? 
 Actually, it's neither.  It's Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States of America that provides for the election of a United States President.  "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."  Yes our president is elected by people we call electors.  When you vote in a presidential election, you are voting for electors.  We call this group of people the Electoral College.  This is a special year in our country's constitutional process.  We get to experience both a census and a presidential election.  By mid September, when your television is inundated with political commercials and commentaries, you'll probably say "enough with the experience."  But with Independence Day still on our minds, this might just be a good time to find a copy of our Constitution and refresh our memories on how we elect a president.
 I'll close with a special warning to my Republican brethren.  The fox is in the henhouse.  Guess who is in charge of counting the votes for the 2000 Presidential Election?  You guessed it--Al Gore.  That Buddhist Temple stuff is small potatoes compared to this.  Speaking of potatoes, wasn't it Dan Quale that was in charge of counting the votes for president in 1992?  I knew we should have followed up after that spelling thing…

This was a piece first published in conjunction with the 2000 election.  I occasionally resurrect it during subsequent elections.  

I don't know anyone that voted for Hillary Clinton today

It is the 8th of November 2016 and I don’t know anyone who voted for Hillary Clinton.  I suspect that I won’t find anyone if I look the rest of the day or the week or the month or the year.
What?
I don’t know anyone who voted for Obama in 2008 or 2012.  Seriously, I don’t know a single person who voted for him.  When I think back on it, I don’t know anyone that voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 or 1996 either.  I know some people who voted for him for governor, but not for president.
Put aside your partisan politics for a moment and consider this.  Most people in the United States do not remember who they voted for in the last Presidential Election.  I don't remember and I suspect that you don't either.  So you think I'm nuts do you?  Well that may be true, but I'm certain of my facts.

I also have it on good authority that fewer than 600 people voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, and even with his mandate in 1996, there were fewer than 538 that voted for him that year.  I'm not getting these figures from some straw poll I conducted in downtown Burns Flat, America--though that is both the cultural and political center of this great republic (OK, that last part is only opinion, but the rest of this article is fact).  Being the only Republican from a family of Democrats, I often am not taken seriously when I tell them that I have never met anyone that voted for Clinton.  Still don't believe me?  So you want answers?  You want the truth?  You can't handle the truth.  In 1992, only 370 people voted for Clinton.  In 1996, only 379 people voted for him, but sure enough that's him in the oval office. 

 Want to know more?  The real election for president didn't occur until December in 1992 and in 1996.  We have narrowed it down to 538 people that could have voted for Clinton in 1996--and you thought we conducted elections by secret ballot.  Actually, the people that elected our current president even signed their names to their ballot and your government knows who they are.    You say that 538 number sounds familiar, but you can't quite place it.  It's got nothing to do with the grassy knoll or the number of times that your Microsoft operated computer shuts down each day due to an illegal operation.  That's right it's the total number of Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress, but they don't elect the president.  In fact, they are not even permitted to vote for the president.   So is this coincidence or conspiracy? 
 Actually, it's neither.  It's Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States of America that provides for the election of a United States President.  "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."  Yes our president is elected by people we call electors.  When you vote in a presidential election, you are voting for electors.  We call this group of people the Electoral College.  This is a special year in our country's constitutional process.  We get to experience both a census and a presidential election.  By mid September, when your television is inundated with political commercials and commentaries, you'll probably say "enough with the experience."  But with Independence Day still on our minds, this might just be a good time to find a copy of our Constitution and refresh our memories on how we elect a president.
 I'll close with a special warning to my Republican brethren.  The fox is in the henhouse.  Guess who is in charge of counting the votes for the 2000 Presidential Election?  You guessed it--Al Gore.  That Buddhist Temple stuff is small potatoes compared to this.  Speaking of potatoes, wasn't it Dan Quale that was in charge of counting the votes for president in 1992?  I knew we should have followed up after that spelling thing…

This was a piece first published in conjunction with the 2000 election.  I occasionally resurrect it  with a new hook during subsequent elections.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Democratic Party says that Black Lives Don't Matter!!!

What?  How can I say that?

I don’t like to venture too much into election politics.  It can distract from my calling in life.  I do my research and do vote my conscious and respect others who do the same.  That is the intended nature of life in this republic; however, I have been too quiet on one subject for too long.

What?

Black Lives Matter, that’s what.

I do believe that black lives matter.  All human life is sacred and if the black community needs some special attention at this point in history, I’m fine with that.  We have a long way to go to true reconciliation in this nation.  This movement won’t get us there on its own but it has its purpose.  I am not sure I agree with all of the precepts on the official website, but I affirm that the life of a person who is black does matter.

What bothers me is that the Democratic Party has embraced this movement and they don’t believe in it.  That’s right, you read it correctly, the Democratic Party does not really believe that black lives matter.

How can I say that?

I can say that because that same party does not believe that the unborn life matters.  When the heart stops beating for a long enough time, the person is pronounced dead; however, when the heart begins to beat for a sustained time, we don’t declare that life has begun with the same definitiveness. 

Yes, this is about the Democratic Party embracing abortion.  Some will stop reading here and say this is just another ultra conservative rant on abortion.  It is not.

This is a challenge to look at our political leadership when it comes to the value and sanctity of life.  The unborn child that is growing in the womb of a mother to be is the responsibility of the mother.  The language of a woman’s right to choose disregards the fact that a life is involved.

I don’t want any more laws or regulations regarding abortion.  I am not on a crusade to overturn Roe v. Wade.  I would like to reframe the question that is never addressed in the Democratic Party—the rights of the unborn child.

If black lives matter then the life of the unborn black child matters as well.  Of course it follows that race is irrelevant to the life at stake in the womb.

So if I don’t want more laws or a Supreme Court decision overturned, what do I want?

I would like to see the Democratic Party address the issue of abortion as the woman’s responsibility to choose instead of her right to choose.

What’s the difference?

Right to choose says this is just another birth control measure.  Take the pill, use a diaphragm, abstain, use condoms, or kill the kid a couple weeks or months after conception do not all belong in the same multiple choice question.

Responsibility to choose puts the decision in the same arena as police officers and soldiers.  When do you take a life?

Never as a matter of convenience or just because you can should be at the top of the list or reasons that should never have validity.  Are there other times when taking a life might be the best option for the mother?  Perhaps.  For those who value life, you would hope not, but you cannot legislate all factors in all situations.

The professional police office does not start his day thinking that things would be easier for him if he killed someone today; yet, in the course of that day and its many circumstances, he may have to make life and death decisions. Many of those decisions must be made in a few seconds or in less than a single second.

These come with consequences either way.  If you take a life, then you must live with that.  If you don’t and others are killed or injured, you live with that as well.

In cases of the unborn, these decisions need not be made in an instant.  They should never be made in an instant!

Life—all human life—must be considered sacred.  There is nothing in Roe v. Wade that should have led anyone to the phrase a woman’s right to choose, at least in the overarching context it is now used.  The expectant mother has responsibility.  Others do as well, but she is the single most responsible person for the life of her unborn child.

I am not asking the Democratic Party to stop endorsing Black Lives Matter.  I challenge them to rethink and rephrase their position on the life in the womb.  It matters!

Life in the womb matters!

In fairness to my liberal friends and family, I must pick on my more conservative brethren.  That’s not exactly true.  I pick on them in fairness to the life in the womb.

If we want those who lean left to value life more, then we who are entrenched on the right need to make provisions for those who have become pregnant and do not desire to raise a child to give up the child to a caring family if she will carry the child to delivery in a healthy and safe manner. 

Yes, we need programs and funding, and red tape slashed to oblivion to get an unwanted child into the hands of a loving family.  Instead of funding abortion clinics, let’s fund life clinics that help women who are pregnant and do not want the child to have a place for care, treatment, and delivery that preserves the life of the child.

Abortion should not be considered as just another means of contraception.  Once the embryo inside of a woman has a heartbeat, she needs to regard the life as her responsibility not her choice.

Do black lives matter?  Of course they do!  Life matters and that includes the unborn life.

We don’t need more laws or regulations or government interference.  We need to get back to a solid moral foundation in our nation.  Life is sacred. 

I challenge the Democratic Party specifically and all Americans in general to value the sanctity of life.  Discard the phrase a woman’s right to choose.  It sounds empowering but it is debilitating.  It degrades us all.  It frames our thinking in such a way that specific lives don’t matter.

It is not the police officer’s right to choose whom he shoots.  It is his responsibility to use deadly force only when absolutely necessary.  Preserving life or taking a life whether made in a fraction of a second or over the course of several days should never be considered anyone’s right.

This is a challenge to all to rethink the sanctity of life in our post-modern society.  I say that all human life is sacred, including the unborn child that has a heartbeat.

Will you value all life?

As people make their lists of what lives matter—black, white, police, gay, straight, or other category that divides us—let’s not leave out the life in the womb.  Regardless of whether we are born into privilege or poverty, our lives matter.  We have had enough division.  It is time to unite behind the sanctity of human life.

Let us value all human life from the first heartbeat to the last!